WASHINGTON (AP)—Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each as the Los Angeles Sparks snapped a three-game skid with a 96-68 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.
Former Mystics star Alana Beard added 16 points for the Sparks (20-9), who swept the two-game season series against Washington. Los Angeles, which has already clinched a playoff berth and remains in second place in the Western Conference, finishes its five-game road trip Sunday against New York.
”We needed it,” Beard said. ”This was a great game to get back on track with and sort of get back to basic and do the little things that we’ve been doing all season.”
Monique Curry scored 16 points for the Mystics (5-23), who lost their season-high seventh straight. Jasmine Thomas added 15 points for Washington, which was outscored 197-138 in its two losses to Los Angeles.
The Sparks outrebounded the Mystics 39-29 and shot 62 percent from the floor (39 of 63) compared to the Mystics’ 36 percent (25 of 69). Parker also had nine rebounds and eight assists.
”They share the ball and they run everything through Candace Parker,” Mystics coach Trudi Lacy said. ”It’s a tough loss. They have a lot of weapons.”
Los Angeles led by 19 in the second quarter before settling for a 54-39 halftime lead. A 15-2 run stretched it to 34-20 early in the second, DeLisha Milton-Jones’ corner 3-pointer later pushed it to 45-30, and Toliver hit back-to-back jumpers to make it 51-32.
Mystics guard Shannon Bobbitt hit a 38-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer.
It was more of the same in the second half, with the lead growing to 83-56 early in the fourth quarter.
Beard, making her first visit to the Verizon Center since signing with the Sparks in the offseason, received a loud ovation from the crowd in pregame introductions. The four-time WNBA All Star, selected by the Mystics in the first round of the 2004 draft, played six seasons in Washington before foot and ankle injuries forced her to miss the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons.
”I have a home here, and this is where I’ve been for eight years,” Beard said. ”It’s a comfortable environment. Seeing familiar faces and coming back here and playing for the fans, I felt like they were our fans.”