Short-handed Sparks lose Dearica Hambry to injury in loss to Mercury

Mercury center Brittney Griner brings the ball up court.
Mercury center Brittney Griner, shown during a game earlier this season, had 29 points and a dunk in a win over the Sparks on Sunday.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)
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Brittney Griner scored 29 points, including her 25th dunk as a professional, and the Phoenix Mercury held on for a 78-72 win over the Los Angeles Sparks in a matchup between two struggling teams Sunday.

Diana Taurasi had 12 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter to put her fewer than 100 points from 10,000 in her career. Moriah Jefferson scored 11 for the Mercury (4-14), who had lost three straight and nine of 10 for the worst record in the WNBA. Griner, who matched her season high for points, had 11 rebounds.

Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points and 14 boards to lead the short-handed Sparks (7-12), who have lost five straight. Jordin Canada scored 16, Azura Stevens added 13 and Jasmine Thomas 10.


The Sparks were without five players and lost starter Dearica Hamby to a sprained ankle midway through the first half.

Griner had 16 points in the first half as the Mercury took a 42-36 lead. Griner was seven-of-11 shooting, including a dunk early in the second quarter. It was her 18th in the regular season to go with five in All-Star Games and two in the playoffs.

“It felt good, felt good,” Griner said. “”I thought I forgot how to dunk for a little bit there.”

Griner converted a three-point play to put Phoenix on top 68-55 with six minutes to play, but Ogwumike scored eight points before Canada drilled back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Sparks to within 72-69 with two minutes to go.

Stevens made a free throw and then the Sparks had a chance to tie with a minute left but a Taurasi foul on Canada was overturned on a coach’s challenge.

Taurasi made four free throws and Griner two to secure the win.