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Jun 2, 2024 8:29 pm

Diana Taurasi goes off as Mercury beat Sparks to end skid

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Hot-shooting Diana Taurasi scored a season-high 31 points and Natasha Cloud racked up 21 points and 12 assists as the host Phoenix Mercury emphatically ended a four-game losing streak by routing the Los Angeles Sparks 87-68 on Sunday afternoon.

Taurasi scored 15 straight points for Phoenix (4-5) bridging the second and third quarters. She made 9 of 14 from the field overall and tied a season high with seven 3-pointers in nine tries. Cloud netted 11 points in the third quarter and finished 7-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-5 from long range.

Dearica Hamby led the Sparks (2-6) with 23 points and added four rebounds and three steals. Her streak of consecutive games with at least 17 points and nine rebounds ended at seven, a WNBA record, came to end.

Taurasi’s 3-pointer with 7:55 left in the game put the Mercury ahead 74-51, but the Sparks scored 12 straight points, including five from Zia Cooke, to pull within 74-63. However, Cloud’s three-point play pushed the lead back to 14 with 3:29 to go, and Los Angeles didn’t threaten again.

Kahleah Copper, the league’s third-leading scorer at 24.3 points per game, was held to 12 on 4-of-13 shooting for the Mercury, who shot 42.4 percent from the floor. Sophie Cunningham had 10 points for Phoenix while Kia Nurse added 12 for Los Angeles, which shot 40 percent.

The Sparks scored the last eight points of the first quarter to trail by one. Hamby netted the first four points of that burst.

Nurse’s running layup in the first minute of the second quarter gave the Sparks a 17-16 lead, but they missed their next eight shots and had three turnovers in going nearly 6 1/2 minutes without scoring again.

The Mercury took advantage. They scored 15 straight points, led by six from Cloud, to build a 31-17 lead with 3:36 left before halftime, before Hamby ended the Sparks’ drought with a layup.

Taurasi scored the Mercury’s final six points of the half as Phoenix widened its lead to 39-22.

Hamby and Taurasi led their teams with 11 points in the half.

–Field Level Media

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