Mercury-Sparks Preview

The Associated Press

A high-powered offense has the Phoenix Mercury off to their best ever 15-game start.

They hope their potent trio is enough to neutralize the red-hot Nneka Ogwumike as they visit the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday looking to match the longest single-season win streak in franchise history.

The Mercury (12-3) own the WNBA's best record and pace the league in scoring (84.8 ppg) and field-goal shooting (49.0 percent). They're the only team with three of the league's top 10 scorers with Diana Taurasi (18.1 ppg), Brittney Griner (15.9) and Candice Dupree (15.6).

Wednesday's 87-69 home victory over Chicago marked Phoenix's first six-game regular-season winning streak since July 1-15, 2011. The only longer one the franchise has ever had in one season was a seven-game run Aug. 1-13, 2006.

Though Griner was held to four points Wednesday, Candice Dupree scored a season-high 26 and added 14 rebounds.

Griner had scored 21-plus in three of her previous four.

"Teams are going to focus a lot on BG (Griner), focus a lot on Diana, so I get quite a few open shots that I have to knock down," Dupree said. "Tonight was my night. I was able to make a lot of shots, get a lot of rebounds but next game, Sunday, it could be somebody different."

While Dupree surpassed the 4,000-point plateau for her career, Taurasi scored 15 to move past Katie Smith for second place on the WNBA's all-time scoring list. Her 6,457 points trail only Tina Thompson's 7,488.

"It's pretty cool to pass Katie, who obviously is one of the greatest to touch a basketball in our generation," Taurasi said. "That's pretty special to share that list with her and obviously Tina is going to be pretty much impossible to catch."

Griner, who leads the league with 4.1 blocks per game, blocked five shots and has 28 over her last four games. She had four in a 74-69 win at Los Angeles on May 18 and combined with Taurasi and Dupree for 54 points, with Taurasi's 23 leading the way.

The Sparks (7-9) have lost four of six on the road, though they come off a 70-56 win at Seattle on Thursday. Los Angeles shot 50.8 percent from the field with Ogwumike scoring 21 points, two days after scoring a season-high 26 in a loss to Chicago.

Ogwumike, who has worn a mask recently to protect a bruised nose, is averaging 22.6 points in five games since suffering the injury June 19. She was previously averaging 11.7 on the season.

"Nneka put that mask on, and she has been a beast," coach Carol Ross said. "She has just been playing at a very, very high level. I'm glad her effort finally turned into a win. You hate wasting a great effort (Tuesday)."

Ogwumike missed the first matchup with Phoenix due to a strained lower back, though Candace Parker finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

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