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Sparks take win streak into matchup vs. Mercury

May 19, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Mercury guard Moriah Jefferson (8) blocks a shot by Los Angeles Sparks guard Jordin Canada (21) in the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a road victory over the WNBA’s top team and reigning champion, the Los Angeles Sparks bring a four-game winning streak into a matchup at home Wednesday with the skidding Phoenix Mercury.

Los Angeles (13-18) held the host Las Vegas Aces to 36 percent shooting from the floor, including 25 percent (8 of 32) on 3-point attempts, in a 78-72 win on Saturday. Las Vegas (28-4) is scoring 93.1 points per game and had not lost at home in the regular season since June of 2022.

The Sparks’ defense ranks is fourth with 81.0 points allowed per game, but has held each of their last three opponents to fewer than that mark. Los Angeles defeated the Indiana Fever 87-80 on Aug. 8 and the Atlanta Dream 85-74 on Aug. 12 ahead of Saturday’s marquee win.

In addition to its defensive tenacity, Los Angeles has received key contributions from Jordin Canada. She produced her second 20-point game in as many outings to help set the tone at Las Vegas, knocked down 4 of 8 from 3-point range and had three steals.

Canada has 14 steals during the Sparks’ winning streak.

“(It’s) the confidence in myself and getting back to who I was,” Canada said on the ESPN broadcast. “And then the coaches and my teammates believing in me and giving me that courage to take those shots.”

While Los Angeles is flourishing on defense, Phoenix (9-23) is sputtering on offense. The Mercury are on a three-game losing streak, putting up 71 points in a 10-point loss to Seattle, 63 in a 22-point blowout defeat against New York and 73 on Sunday against Indiana.

Phoenix’s 77.2-point per game output is lowest in the WNBA.

The Mercury played without leading scorer and rebounder Brittney Griner the last two contests. Griner is listed as questionable Wednesday due to an illness. Diana Taurasi also is questionable due to a toe injury.

Phoenix added Ashley Joens, a 2022-23 NCAA All-American at Iowa State, on a hardship contract last week.

“Our message to our players is just next woman up,” Mercury interim coach Nikki Blue said. “This is an opportunity for someone to step up and show what they have.”

–Field Level Media

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