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Phoenix, Arizona- On Thursday night, August 24th, the Phoenix Mercury (15-16) suffered another blowout loss to Los Angeles Sparks (23-8) in Phoenix.
Coming into the game, the Sparks were riding a three game winning streak and the Mercury were coming off of back-to-back blowout losses. This game was the perfect opportunity for the Mercury to turn the tide in their season even though they were facing an uphill battle against a hot team without their second leading scorer, Diana Taurasi, who sat out the game for rest.
In the first quarter, the game had the outlook of a close battle as the teams traded baskets. The Mercury were able to get the ball in the post to center Brittney Griner which scored a quick four points early but also had two turnovers.
The Sparks came with aggressive double-teams whenever Griner got the ball in the post to stop the momentum. Offensively Los Angeles got Nneka Ogwumike involved as she scored six points early on. Phoenix was up 18-16 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Los Angeles took over the game as their defensive pressure was too much for Phoenix. The Sparks got off to a 12-2 run to start the quarter.
The main player who sparked this run was guard Odyssey Sims.
Sims scored eleven points in the second quarter alone. Los Angeles’ interim head coach Brian Alger’s game plan was to get her going early. “We want both Sims and Chelsea (Gray) to be aggressive with the ball,” stated Alger.
Sims and the Sparks forced Phoenix into ten turnovers during the first half. Los Angeles went into half time up 42-31 as Chelsea Gray ended the half with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Sparks started off the second half slowly as they did not score for over the first three minutes. Yet, the Mercury were not able to take advantage because Los Angeles’s defense was still able to stifle Phoenix.
The Mercury turned the ball over five times in the third quarter which led to ten points for the Sparks. Candace Parker was quiet offensively for most of the game but hit timely baskets that seemed to take the wind out of the Mercury. Sparks were up 60-44 at the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, the game continued to follow the trend set by the Sparks at the start of the second quarter. Los Angeles forced five more turnovers and their defense led to offense.
Sims and Ogwumike continued to be aggressive. Sims ended the game with 28 points on 12 of 19 shooting. Ogwumike ended the game with 21 points going 9-17 from the field.
The Sparks as a whole were very efficient as they shot 47.9% from the floor and 44.4% from three point range. The biggest difference in the game was the turnover battle. Los Angeles only turned the ball over eight times compared to 20 turnovers for the Mercury.
Phoenix are now 15-16 after losing their third straight game by at least 15 points. Los Angeles are peaking at the right time are now riding a four game win streak as the playoffs are right around the corner.