Guard Kristi Tolliver helped the Sparks imrpove to 11-6 with a win over the… (Fred Beckham / Associated…)
Guard Kristi Toliver matched her career high with 29 points to lead the Sparks to a 96-90 win over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center on Thursday.
The Sparks ended a losing streak at three games, their worst skid of the season.
The streak was personal for Toliver, who was scoreless in the Sparks' most recent loss June 28 at San Antonio.
The memory of that gaping zero bothered Toliver all week, driving her to play one of the best games in her career against the Lynx in front of an announced 11,256.
Toliver led all scorers in the game, making eight of her 13 shots from the field, including all six of her three-pointers.
"It was completely crazy that I didn't even shoot the ball in the last game," Toliver said. "Today I just kind of shifted that and showed everybody this is who I am and this is what I do. I'm back on track."
Candace Parker, who scored 28 points and had 13 rebounds, sat by her locker after the game marveling at her teammate's performance.
"Some of that range was like near half-court," Parker said of Toliver. "When she's in her zone we just give her the ball and get out of the way."
The Sparks led by 20 points with 9:22 to go in the fourth quarter. But the Lynx went on a 15-2 run to cut the lead to six points with 21/2 minutes remaining.
The Sparks staved off the Lynx's comeback with flawless free-throw shooting down the stretch. They made each of their 12 attempts from the line in the final two minutes.
"You're not going to keep a champion down for four quarters," Sparks Coach Carol Ross said of the Lynx. "I'm just real excited with how we bounced back."
The Sparks are in second place in the Western Conference, 21/2 games behind Minnesota. The Sparks improved to 11-6 overall, and 7-1 at home, and the Lynx slipped to 13-3.
The last time the teams played, on May 24 at Minnesota, the Sparks lost, 92-84.
With this win, Toliver wasn't the only one who proved something to herself.
"It's good to know that we can beat them," she said.
The Sparks signed guard Andrea Riley, the team announced Thursday. Riley, drafted by the Sparks as the eighth overall pick in 2010, was later traded to Tulsa. She played in eight games this season for the Phoenix Mercury, averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 assists.