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Mercury out to end seven-game skid vs. Sparks

Sportsnaut
Sep 7, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; The WNBA logo on a ball during the fourth quarter of game one of the WNBA finals between the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics at KeyArena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Mercury are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, which is not only the longest in the WNBA this season, it is the longest for the team since 2012.

And Phoenix’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Mercury return home for a game Sunday night at Phoenix, but their opponent is the Los Angeles Sparks, who just beat Phoenix 99-94 on May 25 in L.A.

The Mercury (2-8) entered this season with championship expectations. They played in last year’s WNBA Finals, losing to the Chicago Sky. But they’ve had to grapple with the absence of superstar center Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.

Still, Phoenix added players like Diamond DeShields and Tina Charles in the offseason to pair with all-stars Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith. And they hired Vanessa Nygaard as their new head coach. But the struggles have been pronounced of late.

“Offense is not really our problem. We know that we’re a capable scoring team,” DeShields said, according to ESPN. “The biggest thing for us was our defense.”

The Mercury have the third worst scoring defense in the league, allowing 87.2 points per-game. They’re also allowing opponents to shoot 46.3 percent from the floor, which is the worst in the league.

The Sparks (5-6) lost five in a row earlier this season, but have won three of its last four games, starting with the victory over the Mercury.

Brittney Sykes led Los Angeles to a win over the Dallas Wings on Thursday with a season-high 25 points and six assists off the bench. After her performance, Sykes credited the Sparks new additions – like Katie Lou Samuelson, Lexie Brown and Liz Cambage – for creating room to operate.

“Shoutout to (coach Derek Fisher) for our offseason pickups, because that’s honestly what’s giving me the space to go and drive,” Sykes said, according to Just Women’s Sports.

Nneka Ogwumike has also been a force for the Sparks, currently sixth in the league in scoring with 18.0 points and 10th in rebounds at 7.5 per game.

–Field Level Media