Diana Taurasi scored 30 points, and the Phoenix Mercury put together a strong second half on Thursday for a convincing 86-75 road win Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Los Angeles.
Taurasi only shot 8-for-21 in 40 minutes of play, but mostly got it done from the free-throw line, shooting 11-for-13 there. She also had a team-high seven assists. She got help on the offensive end from Candice Dupree (16 points) and DeWanna Bonner (13 points).
Candace Parker led the Sparks with 28 points (11-for-19 shooting) and eight rebounds, and Lindsey Harding scored 16 points and dished out five assists.
Turnovers killed Los Angeles, which gave away the ball 16 times, compared to the Mercury’s eight. The Sparks also shot only 41 percent (compared to the Mercury’s 50) and did not make a single three-pointer.
The higher-seeded Sparks (24-10 in the regular season) took a 43-38 lead into halftime, but Taurasi, Dupree and Bonner helped the Mercury outscore Los Angeles 27-17 in the third quarter, and Phoenix did not let up from there.
The Mercury (19-15 in the regular season) will have a chance to clinch the best-of-three series at home on Saturday.