PHOENIX (AP) — Candace Parker had 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Phoenix Mercury 82-73 on Saturday night, evening their WNBA Western Conference semifinal series.
Nneka Ogwumike also had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Lindsey Harding scored 13 points and Alana Beard added 12 for the Sparks. Two days after receiving the league's MVP award for the second time, Parker shot 13 for 24 from the field and 5 for 6 on free throws.
Diana Taurasi, who scored 30 points in Phoenix's win at Los Angeles in Game 1 on Thursday, had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting. However, after trailing at halftime for the second straight game, the Mercury couldn't rally for the win this time.
Brittney Griner scored 18 points and Candice Dupree added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Mercury.
The deciding game Game 3 will be Monday night in Los Angeles.
Parker had 15 points and four rebounds in the second quarter as the Sparks extended their early lead to a 44-30 advantage at the break and then held off Phoenix in the second half.
Los Angeles led by 13 in the fourth quarter.
The Mercury chipped away a bit in the third period with Taurasi getting 11 points to help her team get within 10 going into the final period but Phoenix never got the deficit to single digits until the final 3:07.
The Mercury pulled to 76-71 on Taurasi's two free throws with 34.8 seconds remaining, but Los Angeles made 6 of 8 from the line the rest of the way to seal the win.
Phoenix committed 12 turnovers in the first half — more than they totaled in the opener on Thursday — leading to 10 Sparks points in an otherwise even first half.
The Mercury also got in foul trouble again, with Dupree picking up her third with 5:33 left in the second and Taurasi her third less than a minute later — both on the offensive end.
Los Angeles scored the last four points of the first quarter to take a 17-13 lead after 10 minutes.