Sparks 79, Dream 63
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The Los Angeles Sparks are happy to end one of the toughest stretches of their schedule with a perfect mark.
Kristi Toliver scored 19 points and Candace Parker added 14 points and 12 rebounds and the Sparks defeated the Atlanta Dream 79-63 on Sunday.
The Sparks (13-6) went 3-0 against Minnesota, Atlanta and Seattle in a four-day span.
They improved to 9-1 at home in their last home game before the Olympic break and snapped a six-game losing streak against the Dream.
''I'm glad that's done,'' Sparks coach Carol Ross said. ''I'm extremely proud of them. Everything's going to get knocked to the mat in this league, but it's how you get up, and I thought we responded to rest. I thought we responded to practice. I think we really focused in on these three home games against three quality opponents.''
Sancho Lyttle led the Dream (8-9) with 17 points and Aneika Henry had 13. Atlanta played its second game in as many days without leading scorer and U.S. Olympic team member Angel McCoughtry, who has a sprained left MCL.
Atlanta was held to a season-low 34.8 percent shooting.
''I just thought they were very athletic and they played really good defense on us,'' Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. ''Offensively they looked for the open shots and they were knocking them down.''
Meadors said the game was ''like playing ourselves'' because Ross was an assistant coach with Atlanta last season and the two know each other well.
Ross and Los Angeles got even for their biggest loss of the season, a 33-point win by Atlanta on June 15 in which it shot a season-low 28.6 percent.
This time the Sparks continued to count on Toliver and Parker and got inside for 48 points in the paint.
The Sparks weren't concerned with getting even so much as getting well at home after a three-game losing streak to end June.
''We slipped up at home the last time, earlier,'' Parker said. ''We were looking at it like it's a good opportunity to come back home and right our wrongs. At times it wasn't pretty, but we got the job done.''
Toliver played all 40 minutes in the second game of a back-to-back. Nneka Ogwumike scored 12 points, DeLisha Milton-Jones 11 and Alana Beard seven points and seven assists in another solid game from L.A.'s starting five.
''We wanted to be greedy and get all these wins at home and take that momentum on the road,'' said Toliver, who had ice packs on her knees and shins afterward.
Los Angeles led by double digits throughout the fourth quarter. Atlanta got to 67-56 with five minutes remaining on a basket by Jessica Moore before the Sparks ran off the next six points.
The Sparks ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run with contributions from their bench. Marissa Coleman scored on a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer before Jantel Lavender made a layup for a 65-50 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Dream had pulled to 55-48 on a driving layup by Lyttle but the Sparks came right back with a Toliver 3-pointer.
Meadors said her team might have been fatigued from a double-overtime game on Saturday, and Lyttle agreed.
''When you work so hard to bring a lead back, you kind of get tired,'' Lyttle said. ''I can't say for everybody - I just say for myself. I think being tired played a key in our game today.''
Toliver scored 12 points with five assists and Parker had 10 points and seven rebounds to help give the Sparks a 44-36 lead at halftime. Toliver's 3-pointer stretched the lead to 14 points before Atlanta scored the final six points of the half.
The Sparks went on a 15-4 run in the second quarter after a 3-pointer by Beard and basket inside by Lavender. Lyttle and Tiffany Hayes combined to score 24 points in the first half.
Atlanta missed 12 of its first 14 shots but recovered to close the deficit to 24-19 after the first quarter.