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Mercury go down 0-2 in WNBA semifinals vs. Sparks

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Candace Parker had 24 points and 13 rebounds — showing no effects of an ankle injury — to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Phoenix Mercury 86-72 on Thursday night in Game 2 of the WNBA semifinal series.

Parker injured her ankle in the warmups before the Sparks’ Game 1 victory, but she still played in that game and returned to her usual form in Game 2 the Pyramid at Long Beach State.

The defending champion Sparks have won nine games in a row and can sweep the best-of-five series Sunday in Arizona.

Nneka Ogwumike added 18 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles.

Diana Taurasi led Phoenix with 19 points, and Brittney Griner had 16 points.

The Mercury went on a 13-2 run to pull within four at 61-57 in the fourth quarter, but the Sparks thwarted the comeback. Ogwumike made a 3-pointer to end that run.

Los Angeles’ Alana Beard, the WNBA’s defensive player of the year, picked up two fouls in the first quarter, and played just 11:09 minutes in the first half. She made her first basket early in the fourth quarter. Ogwumike also was whistled for two fouls in the first quarter but still had a strong game.

TIP-INS

Parker’s 8-year-old daughter, Lailaa, was dancing courtside and cheering on her mom … The game was played on in Long Beach because of the Darryl Hall & John Oates and Tears For Fears concert at Staples Center Thursday … Mercury forward Angel Robinson played for the first time since Aug. 12. She was out with a knee injury.

WHAT’S NEXT

Game 3 is Sunday in Phoenix.

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