LOS ANGELES (AP) — Diana Taurasi and her Phoenix Mercury teammates said they were unaware of the Los Angeles Sparks’ home dominance. They were too concerned about ending their own streak.
Playing in her home city in a nationally televised game, Taurasi scored 32 points and DeWanna Bonner had 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Mercury snapped the Sparks’ 19-game regular-season home winning streak Thursday night with a 90-84 win.
Phoenix (9-7) played a third straight game without injured Brittney Griner but became the first team to defeat Los Angeles at home this season. Penny Taylor scored 16 points and Candice Dupree added 15 points and nine rebounds as the Mercury snapped a three-game slide.
“I think it was more important to break our streak of three in a row,” Taurasi said. “They’re a really, really good team, especially at home . I think it was more of a big thing for us.”
Candace Parker led the Sparks (11-5) with 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Kristi Toliver had 16 points. Los Angeles last lost a regular-season home game on June 24, 2012, to San Antonio. It was the second-longest home winning string in WNBA history behind L.A.’s 28-game streak from 2000-02.
“I think that we just didn’t come ready to play on this day,” Nneka Ogwumike said. “We didn’t even play well (Wednesday) and we won. We still feel good about how well we play here. Before the game, coach (Carol Ross) mentioned that we established that we were road warriors. Now we have to be warriors.”
Taurasi made 15 of 17 free throws and had six assists. It was her second-highest point total this season. Phoenix, which was dominated in the paint in a loss last Sunday to L.A., had a 50-38 edge in points in the paint.
The Sparks, who lead the WNBA in field goal percentage, shot 38 percent. Parker and Toliver combined to go 12 for 37 from the field. The Sparks were playing the second of back-to-back games, but Ross didn’t cite fatigue as a factor.
“Phoenix was a better team tonight,” Ross said. “Taurasi was a handful again, and we just didn’t do enough things to slow them down and get them out a rhythm.”
Taurasi scored 18 points in a highly charged first half in which she was given a technical foul for arguing an offensive foul and had to be separated from Alana Beard during a loose ball tussle. Taurasi converted on a spin move at the top of the key, while Bonner and Taylor each made 3-pointers during a 30-13 run to close the first half and give Phoenix a 46-38 halftime lead.
Taurasi said she fed off the atmosphere.
“This is my home city,” she said. “I grew up out there. I grew up going to Staples and watching Lisa (Leslie). This is where I played my basketball for 18 years. I still live here. My parents live here. All my family lives here. When I come here, it feels good.”
Jenna O’ Hea made a 3-pointer to cap a 10-2 run that got the Sparks within 73-72, but Phoenix ran off the next nine points. Taylor, in her first start of the season, converted on two drives during the run.
Bonner made a 3-pointer and a layup as Phoenix opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run and took its biggest lead at 55-40 on Alexis Hornbuckle’s reverse layup.
The Sparks took a 10-0 lead to start the game before the Mercury called time out and climbed back behind Taurasi’s eight points and Dupree’s six points in the first quarter.