Mercury set to end seven-game skid against Sparks

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Credit: Jennifer Buchanan – USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Mercury are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, which is not only the longest in the WNBA this season, but also the team’s longest since 2012.

And Phoenix’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Mercurys return home for a Sunday night game in Phoenix, but their opponent is the Los Angeles Sparks, who just beat Phoenix 99-94 on May 25 in LA

The Mercury (2-8) entered this season with championship expectations. They made the WNBA Finals last year, losing to Chicago Sky. But they have had to deal with the absence of center superstar Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.

Still, Phoenix added players like Diamond DeShields and Tina Charles in the offseason to partner with stars Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith. And they hired Vanessa Nygaard as the new head coach. But the struggles have been pronounced lately.

“The offense is not really our problem. We know we’re a team that can score,” DeShields said, according to ESPN. “The most important thing for us was our defence.”

The Mercurys have the third-worst defense in the league, giving up 87.2 points per game. They also allow opponents to shoot 46.3% from the ground, which is the worst in the league.

The Sparks (5-6) lost five straight earlier this season but have won three of their last four, starting with the win over the Mercurys.

Brittney Sykes led Los Angeles to a win over the Dallas Wings on Thursday with a season-high 25 points and six assists off the bench. After her performance, Sykes credited Sparks’ new additions — like Katie Lou Samuelson, Lexie Brown and Liz Cambage — for creating space to operate.

“Thumbs up to (coach Derek Fisher) for our off-season pickups because that’s honestly what gives me the space to go drive,” Sykes said, according to Just Women’s Sports.

Nneka Ogwumike has also been a force for the Sparks, currently sixth in the league with 18.0 points and 10th in rebounds at 7.5 per game.

–Field level media

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