Sports

Sparks are done if they lose to Mercury

The Sparks are already facing an elimination game.

They lost Game 1 of their best-of-three first-round playoffs series against the Phoenix Mercury at Staples Center on Thursday, 86-75. If they lose Game 2 in Phoenix on Saturday (7 p.m., TWC/TWC Deportes), they will be out of the playoffs.

On offense, the Sparks were stagnant in Game 1. They shot 41.1% from the field and had only 12 assists, compared to the Mercury's 20.

"If you look at our offense in the second half, we had four people on the perimeter and one person at post and everyone was just standing," said Candace Parker, who had 28 points, eight rebounds but no assists. "We had horrible possessions, and we were giving up easy baskets."

The only other Spark to score in double figures was guard Lindsey Harding (16 points). Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, who averaged 14.8 points and 14.1 points during the regular season, respectively, combined for just 10 points on Thursday.

"I have to find a way to put my teammates in a better position to knock it down and get in better shots, whether that's in transition, early offense or in the half-court set," Parker said.

The Sparks led by as many as eight points in the first half, but were outscored by the Mercury in the third quarter, 27-17.

In addition to not being able to score, they weren't able to stop Mercury guard Diana Taurasi. She finished with 30 points, scoring 20 in the second half.

"With her you have to be able to change things because she's very smart," Sparks Coach Carol Ross said. "If you go to one thing too long, she figures it out and beats you in other ways."

The last time the Sparks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs was in 2010.

Parker acknowledged that she was very disappointed by her team's performance, but maintained they can still turn things around.

She was quick to point out that the reigning WNBA champion, the Indiana Fever, also lost Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs last year at home.

"Obviously we're disappointed we lost Game 1," said Parker, who added that the team was fortunate it was a three-game series.

melissa.rohlin@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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