Los Angeles, Ca – Los Angeles Sparks (3-12) defeat Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury (9-7) live in prime time 70-65. Forward Jantel Lavender was not afraid of the bright lights tonight she lead her team with a double-double 19 points, 11 rebounds in the paint. Teammate 3 time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike had 17 points and was very selective in her shot selection for the Sparks. It was a close game again with 8 ties during the game but this time the Sparks ended the game in regulation with the victory.
This was a much need win for Head Coach Brian Agler just before All-Star break and the season midpoint. Agler’s game plan tonight of slowing down Griner worked holding her to only 13 points, 7 rebounds due to Marianna Tolo defense and 4 blocks, 8 points. A new spark of the bench was Ana Dabovic playing a strong 23 minutes and 50% field goal shooting and a timely three pointer late in fourth quarter to bring the momentum back to the Sparks.
The fans were on pins and needles in the closing stretch of the game hoping that they were not watching a déjà vu of the last Mercury overtime loss at Staples Center. The guard play of Kristi Toliver 10 points & Temeka Johnson 7 points were solid with only few turnovers between them. They controlled the offensive in the second half and made key baskets when needed.
The Suns played a good game just not great which is what was need for the Sparks win. The Dangerous DeWanna Bonner lead her team with 15 points and was announced a reserve to Sat July 25th All-Star game. Bonner teammates veteran Candice Dupree 12 points, Griner will be there in Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
This win tonight can be a step in right direction with an earlier announcement by Sparks executive Vice President & General Manager Penny Toler that Candace Parker will rejoin the team after WNBA All-Star game. Her first action will be on a three game road trip before playing at home on August 4th vs Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center. Agler had this to say, “Candace has been an influential part of the Sparks for several years and a big part of its success. She has been an All-Star and an MVP, and we are sure she will influence great play by the Sparks in the future.”
Next game will be tomorrow night July 22nd verse New York Liberty at Staples Center at 7:30pm PST.
More Game Photos can be viewed at Full Image 360