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Mercury Gains Upper Hand

Vodichkova sets a league record by making her first 10 shots as Phoenix takes season series from the Sparks with a runaway 77-60 victory.

July 27, 2005|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

The days of the Sparks dominating the Phoenix Mercury appear to be over.

Los Angeles still owns a 26-8 all-time record against the Mercury, but Phoenix won the 2005 season series (2-1) with a decisive 77-60 victory over the Sparks at America West Arena Tuesday.

Mercury forward Kamila Vodichkova set a league record by making her first 10 shots and went on to score a career-best 24 points with six rebounds. Diana Taurasi, playing on a sore right knee, added 16 points.

Phoenix (9-12) continued to nudge its way into the Western Conference playoff hunt, winning for the sixth time in seven games.

The loss dropped the Sparks to 11-10 and continued a downward trend. They have won consecutive games only once since winning a season-high three in a row between June 11 and 18.

"We're trying to do everything we can do," Spark Coach Henry Bibby said. "Now we've got to go back to the drawing board and make a push for the game on Friday against Sacramento.

"But you're not going to win many games giving up three shots to your one. Again, we didn't match the energy of [Phoenix]."

The Sparks got 16 points from Chamique Holdsclaw, but she made only five of 12 shots and did not score a field goal after the 10:09 mark of the first half. Tamika Whitmore scored nine.

The Sparks, who have been decimated by injuries all year, were without starting point guard Nikki Teasley (foot) for the second consecutive game. Then Lisa Leslie, who scored eight points, hurt her left knee while running down the court in the second half and had to be helped to the bench with 9:41 remaining. She is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam today.

The Mercury combined an overpowering presence on the boards (17-9) with perfect shooting by Vodichkova (eight for eight) to jump out to a 41-29 halftime lead.

Phoenix shot 57% in the half. Vodichkova made her first two shots of the second half. She finally missed a layup at the 7:37 mark.

The Mercury's biggest lead was 75-47 with 3:25 to play.

Terry reported from Los Angeles.

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