Sparks top Lynx

Published 2:19 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Sparks coach Carol Ross thinks she might know a way to stop her team’s home-and-road personality disorder.

“Right now I’d say stay at the Staples Center,” Ross joked. “But hopefully we’re better than just that.”

The Sparks are the only team in the WNBA without a road victory this season, but they continued to click at home with a 96-66 win Tuesday night against the Minnesota Lynx.

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Candace Parker scored 27 points and Kristi Toliver had 14 as the Sparks remained undefeated at home. Parker scored 21 points in the first half and matched her season high in points. She also had eight rebounds.

Toliver matched a career high with nine assists and Nneka Ogwumike added 12 points and 10 rebounds as the Sparks (6-4) snapped a two-game losing streak.

The victory came four days after the Sparks lost by 24 points in Minnesota. Parker was pleased with her team’s performance, but there was a tinge of dissatisfaction at the home/road disparity. Los Angeles has won 16 straight regular-season home games dating to last season.

“We want to (continue) playing well at home and building on that,” Parker said. “But we’ve got to figure out what’s wrong with the way we play on the road, because it’s like two different teams.”

Lindsay Whalen scored 19 points and Rebekkah Brunson had 18 for the Lynx (7-3), who were blown out in LA for the second time in 11 days. Minnesota, which lost by 28 points here on June 21, did not get closer than 19 points in the second half.

Minnesota’s two worst shooting games this season have been in Los Angeles. The Lynx went 1 for 10 from 3-point range and are 7 for 39 from beyond the arc the past three games.

“It’s no surprise that that’s why we’re giving up so many the other way,” Whalen said. “Whether it’s execution or turnovers or whatever it is, we’re not able to make it happen. I don’t know what it is, but we need to figure it out on the road in general. It’s about executing and taking care of the ball. You give up 94 points, it’s going to be hard to win any game.”

Parker’s 21 first-half points came on 6-for-9 shooting as the Sparks closed on a 16-4 run for a 60-39 lead at the break. Parker took a slick pass from Lindsey Harding and finished a fast break with a basket and a foul before Harding fed her again for an uncontested layup to push the lead to 60-38.

Parker matched her career high with three 3-pointers in the first quarter, including the final two baskets of the period that gave L.A. the lead for good at 22-21.

Marissa Coleman helped highlight the late first-half run with a three-point play off Parker’s missed free throw, a layup to finish a break and a finger roll.

“I think with the way we moved the ball today – it’s going to happen a lot more,” Parker said. “We’ve just got to be ready to take it and be confident.

“The last two games I wasn’t necessarily confident. I wasn’t sure. When I caught it I was looking to pass first, looking to dribble. Today I was just like I’ve got to catch-and-shoot. That’s what I worked on yesterday in the gym.”

The Sparks opened the second half on a 10-4 run, capped by Ogwumike’s basket on Parker’s no-look pass to make it 70-43. Minnesota responded with an 8-0 run to make it 70-51 but couldn’t rally.

“It’s frustrating,” Brunson said. “Once we take care of the ball, and go through our offense and get a good shot, it works out for us. But we’re not taking care of the ball. We’re turning the ball over or we’re not getting a good shot and not going through our offense. That’s how the stuff is disrupting us.

“We just need to be persistent with what we’re trying to do and accomplish, and be tougher.”

Minnesota shot 52 percent in the first half but was held to one field goal in the final three minutes, while Los Angeles shot 59 percent. The 60 points were the most in the first half this season by the Sparks.

The Sparks have won 10 of the past 11 meetings against Minnesota in L.A.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon and Olympic gold medalist sprinter Allyson Felix were in attendance.