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Awful 3rd quarter for Sparks leads to meltdown against Fever

The Los Angeles Sparks suffered a terrible loss to the Indiana Fever, as they collapsed in the second half, especially in the third quarter.

Chris Poss

Indiana outscored Los Angeles 24-6 in the third quarter en route to a 79-68 comeback win Tuesday night.

It was the Fever's (15-9) first win at the STAPLES Center since August 10, 2010, and first win over the Sparks since losing seven in a row in the series.

Indiana trailed by 14 at the half before making a 16-4 to tie the game at 48. The 14-point rally was the Fever's largest comeback of the season.

Marissa Coleman closed out the third quarter with a huge four-point play to give the Fever their first lead since the opening quarter.

By that point, the Sparks (8-17) seemed deflated despite being down just four points and dominating the first half.

"It seems that whenever a team has a run on us, we are able to come back. Whenever we have a lead, teams are able to come back," Los Angeles head coach Brian Agler said. "We aren't disciplined and not tough enough to sustain what we did well in the first half. That's an area we need to work on."

The Sparks' spacing and ball movement allowed for 13 assists on 17 first-half field goals. The Sparks also tallied six fast break points and eight steals on 10 Indiana turnovers in the half.

However, the tides drastically turned after halftime as the Sparks quickly racked up seven turnovers of their own as Indiana regained control of the game's tempo.

"I think we got back to being our tough, gritty, defensive team in the second half," Fever head coach Stephanie White said. "First of all we didn't turn it over nearly every other possession like we did in the first half. We took better care of the ball, our defensive intensity and attention to detail was better."

The energy of the Fever was visibly up as they continuously won 50-50 balls and grabbed 19 offensive boards compared to Los Angeles' six. The Fever outrebounded the Sparks 41-29.

"We wanted to make a huge effort defensively to lock in and box out," White said. "Offensively, we knew we weren't shooting the ball particularly well so we wanted to be aggressive on the offensive glass, so we certainly mentioned that and our players take it to heart."

Another Coleman triple gave Indiana a nine point 73-64 lead with 2:24 remaining. The Sparks made just one field goal the rest of the way.

"We get early leads in games and we get complacent," Sparks forward Candace Parker said. "We came out in the third quarter and laid an egg. We didn't play any type of defense and didn't move the ball offensively."

Parker finished with her sixth double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. She also had a franchise-record eight steals. The Sparks were without Nneka Ogwumike due to concussion-like symptoms.

Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 20 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Briann January finished with a season-high 16, and Coleman added 14 for the Fever.

The loss came at a crucial time for the Sparks as they will begin a four-game road streak in eight days Friday at Phoenix