Seeking consistency, Mercury, Sparks meet

The Los Angeles Sparks or host Phoenix Mercury will get a much-needed victory when the Western Conference rivals meet on Sunday night.

The Mercury (3-5) are trying to end a four-game losing streak, with three of those defeats coming by at least 15 points. The Sparks (2-5) have fallen in three of their past four games, but the losses have come by a combined 16 points.

Phoenix’s first-year coach, Nate Tibbetts, was looking for answers after his team stumbled out of the gate and never recovered on Friday, falling 95-71 to the host Minnesota Lynx. The Mercury trailed 55-31 at halftime but matched the Lynx the rest of the way.

“For whatever reason, we were not ready in the first half. I’ve got to do a better job of getting us ready to play,” Tibbetts said. “We responded, but unfortunately, it is a tough road ahead when you’re not ready. I like what I saw in the second half, there was more of the Mercury style of basketball that we want to play.”

Phoenix surrendered 25 points off its 17 turnovers for the game.

Kahleah Copper, the league’s third-leading scorer at 24.3 points per game, led the Mercury with 21 points, while Diana Taurasi added 14.

Phoenix was playing its third game in four days.

The Sparks should be more rested, having not played since losing 83-73 to the host Chicago Sky on Thursday. Los Angeles was outrebounded 35-33, with the Sky getting 13 boards on the offensive end.

“I think the O-boards were momentum killers,” said center Dearica Hamby, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Sparks. “We really talked about limiting them. We know that they’re pretty elite at that. And I think that when we were within reach, we kind of let that get away from us.”

Los Angeles trailed by 21 with 5:18 left in the third quarter but had the deficit down to nine points several times in the fourth.

Hamby is sixth in the league in scoring (20.6 points per game) and leads the WNBA in rebounds per game (12.7). She enters Sunday with a chance to extend a historic streak, as she is the league’s first player to amass seven consecutive regular-season games of at least 17 points and nine rebounds.

–Field Level Media