Sparks put away Mercury late to finish preseason unbeaten

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Sparks will start the 2024 regular season against the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday, May 15.

PHOENIX — The Sparks looked good in these warm-up games.

Los Angeles separated from the Phoenix Mercury near the end of the game as they scored eight straight points to put the home team away. The Sparks finished the preseason 2-0 as they defeated the Merc, 98-85.

Phoenix didn’t have Brittney Griner playing and L.A. took full advantage. The Sparks obliterated the Mercury on the boards, 42-20. Los Angeles and Phoenix were tied after halftime at 42 before the Sparks had a huge third quarter that put them up by as many as 17 points. Phoenix did come back to cut it to 80-78 before that aforementioned 8-0 run that saw Zia Cooke convert two three-pointers.

It was a messy contest that saw the Sparks turn the ball over 21 times while the Mercury had 18 turnovers themselves. Both teams were incredible behind the arcl; L.A. went 12 for 23 (.522) from three while Phoenix made 16 out of 32 (.500). But it was the assertiveness of the Sparks that put them over the top. L.A. lived at the free throw line, going 28 for 31 (.903). Cooke and Dearica Hamby shot 16 combined foul shots and did not miss.

Hamby and Cooke each scored 21 points to lead the Sparks. Aari McDonald (11) and Lexie Brown (10) were deadly from the perimeter, each making three three-pointers. Cameron Brink had seven points and four rebounds but was in foul trouble for the game. Rickea Jackson went 1/6 and had two points. Phoenix was led by the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, Diana Taurasi. She finished with 16 points.

The Sparks will start the regular season at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach on Wednesday, May 15, as they open up against the Atlanta Dream, who had three all-stars last season. That will be quite the test to begin the 2024 campaign. And the final Sparks roster will be determined by then as they’ll have to cut some players by Monday, May 13.