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Kristi Toliver heats up as Sparks hold off Sun

Kristi Toliver scored 19 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter, to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Connecticut Sun 74-72 in Connecticut on Tuesday night.

Photo by Jennifer Stewart | USA Today Sports

Sometimes, the bounces favor the other team. That was the case for Anne Donovan and the Connecticut Sun.

If one or two more shots fell instead of popping out after rolling around the rim, the Sun would be 7-12 and on a three-game winning streak. Instead, those misses, coupled with the hot shooting of Kristi Toliver, allowed the Los Angeles Sparks to improve to 14-7 with a 74-72 win at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"Tan [White] had a great look at the three-point line," Donovan said. I thought that was going to go, and then Toliver got hot. We were right in there. When you're on your floor, you really wish you can finish those games."

Both teams were missing key pieces to their squads. Los Angeles was without Candace Parker, who remains sidelined due to injury, while Connecticut was without Kara Lawson (family matters) and Mistie Bass (knee strain). For Connecticut, Bass is expected to be back soon, with Donovan saying that she is "day-to-day."

The Sun missed Bass' presence down low, as Kelsey Griffin and Kayla Pedersen were forced to pick up the minutes often filled by Bass, and they had a hard time stopping the Sparks' offensive flow.

Connecticut was in the game until the last second, but Toliver got hot in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of her 19 in the final 10 minutes and preventing the Sun from taking the lead.

"Give her a lot of credit," Donovan said of Toliver. "She's a big-time shooter. She loves the money shots, and she hit too many down the stretch on us."

Once again, Connecticut climbed back into the game in the fourth quarter, something that is becoming a recurring theme for the Sun this season. While Donovan is pleased with the team's ability to rise from the dead, the first-year coach knows that their record could be more positive if they were not in those situations in the first place.

"I'm really proud of our effort. I thought we got into a hole – we've been doing that way too much – and once again we fought back and climbed out of that hole, so I like that characteristic of this team, but I wish we wouldn't get into these holes as big as we do."

The win helps to keep the Sparks within range of the Minnesota Lynx, who beat the San Antonio Silver Stars tonight.