LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker needed a lot of ice to get her ankle ready for Thursday night.
And yet, it’s the Phoenix Mercury at risk of getting frozen out.
Parker had 24 points and 13 rebounds — showing no effects of an injury — to help Los Angeles beat Phoenix 86-72 in Game 2 of a WNBA semifinal series.
The defending champion Sparks have won nine straight games and can sweep the best-of-five series Sunday in Arizona after taking a commanding 2-0 lead.
Parker, who played a game-high 36:59 minutes, sustained the injury in warmups before the Sparks’ Game 1 victory. But she played in that game and returned to her usually dominant form in Game 2.
“I felt good,” Parker said. “Our training staff did a good job getting me ready for this game. A lot of ice. A lot of elevation. A lot of treatment. I think when we’re able to play in flow and we’re able to rebound and get stops. Rebound, run the floor.”
Sims had 21 points and Nneka Ogwumike added 18 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles.
Diana Taurasi led Phoenix with 19 points, and Brittney Griner had 16 points. The Mercury had 12 of their 18 turnovers in the second half. Los Angeles outscored Phoenix 50-36 in the paint and had 20 second-chance points.
And then there was the task of trying to defend Parker.
“Great player,” Griner said of Parker. “She got going quick and heated up. Tried to make some adjustments throughout the game and tried to crowd her a little bit. It’s hard to help off when I’ve got Nneka right there who can knock down the long 2 or the 3.”
Perhaps Parker’s best contribution was helping double-team Griner.
“Candace was at her best and really competed at both ends,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “We asked her to guard Brittany tonight at times and she took on the challenge and did pretty well.”
The Sparks led by 15 points but let up defensively late in the third quarter when the Mercury went on a 13-2 run to pull within four at 61-57 in the fourth quarter. The Sparks stalled the comeback when Ogwumike made a 3-pointer to end the run.
EARY FOUL TROUBLE