Mercury Best Sparks for Third-Straight Win

Phoenix 100, Los Angeles 83

PHOENIX, Aug. 11 (AP) -- Penny Taylor had 28 points and seven rebounds, Cappie Pondexter scored 21 points and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Los Angeles Sparks 100-83 Saturday night for their third straight victory.

Tangela Smith had 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Mercury (21-11), who set a franchise mark for wins -- topping the 20-12 record in 2000.

"It feels really good,'' Phoenix's Diana Taurasi said. "Bridget (Pettis), (Michelle) Timms, (Jennifer) Gillom, those guys really paved the way for us and for us to get to this stepping stone is very special.''

Phoenix has won nine of 10 and remained a game in front of second-place San Antonio in the Western Conference.

"I'm happy for the team,'' Mercury coach Paul Westhead said. "I'm happy for the franchise, that they've shown progress, moved forward.''

Rookie Sidney Spencer had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sparks (9-21), who have lost five straight and eight of nine.

"They're the best team in the West right now and they're playing good basketball,'' Sparks coach Michael Cooper said. "We hung in there as well as we could and I just think the overwhelmingness of them constantly running got to us.''

Phoenix led by 13 in the third quarter until Los Angeles scored 10 straight points, the last eight by Spencer, to pull to 57-54 with 5:23 left.

"We just looked at each other in the huddle and said its time to pick it up,'' Taurasi said. "They are a good team and they're going to make a run, but it was time to put the clamps down. We did a good job defensively and we got the job done.''

Taylor hit a 3-pointer and Pondexter made four straight free throws, and the Sparks never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

Phoenix shot 40 percent (30-for-76) from the field and 28-for-31 from the line -- including the first 27 free throws.

Taurasi had just 12 points, shooting just 4-for-14, but had eight assists, including a pair early in the fourth quarter to help Phoenix open up a 19-point advantage.

In the first half, Phoenix made four of its first six shots, but then missed 17 of the next 20, allowing Los Angeles to stay within 25-22 with 8:56 left. However, the Mercury scored six straight points and extended the lead to 38-26 on Tangela Smith's layup with 4:32 left.

Phoenix led 47-38 at halftime.