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Phoenix Mercury

Parker leads Sparks to win over Mercury

PHOENIX Candace Parker had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to their fifth straight win, an 88-76 victory Sunday over the Phoenix Mercury.

Nneka Ogwumike added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Sparks, who have beaten their last five opponents by an average of 18.6 points a game after a 5-4 start.

Phoenix (8-7) played its second straight game without No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner, who has a sore left knee injured June 6 against Minnesota.

Los Angeles took control early with a 13-point run in the first quarter and then held off Phoenix rallies in the second and third quarters.

Diana Taurasi had 23 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead the Mercury, who have lost three straight after winning five in a row. DeWanna Bonner added 17 points and four rebounds for Phoenix.

Lindsey Harding added 15 points and five assists for the Sparks (10-4), the top scoring and best shooting team in the league, whose transition game led to 21 fast-break points on Sunday.

Ogwumike scored four points in a seven-point spurt midway through the third quarter that gave Los Angeles separation. The team had traded baskets to start the period but Ogwumike's layup made it 60-47.

Parker scored 14 first-half points to lead the Sparks to a 43-37 advantage at the break.

Taurasi quickly picked up two fouls in the first 3:10 of the game and Phoenix missed 11 of its first 14 shots, trailing 20-13 after the first quarter.

The Mercury beat the Sparks 97-81 on June 14.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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