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Tale of 2 halves: Sparks tested, remain unscathed

The Los Angeles Sparks head back home as one of two teams in the WNBA without a loss in 2016. The Sparks earned their fifth straight win by picking up their defensive intensity to hold off the Connecticut Sun.

Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

Uncasville, CT -- The Los Angeles Sparks capped off a four-game road trip Thursday night in Connecticut where they were tested. The Sparks cooled the Sun in the second half en route to their fifth victory of the year, 77-72.

Candace Parker kept her team in it in the first half, scoring 12 of her game-high 22 points in the second quarter, when the Sun were making a high percentage of their shots (46 percent), as well as getting out in transition.

"Its a process," Parker said. "I don't think we are happy or content with where we are right now, but we are winning. We are 5-0 for the first time in a long time. We've had an opportunity, and we put ourselves in position to continue to get better and to be there at the end of the year."

The Sun came out shooting it extremely well, scoring 11 of the first 15 points in the game. Connecticut had their hands in the passing lanes, causing turnovers that led to easy transition buckets for a team that has struggled to shoot it through their first three games.

The second quarter featured Parker, who began to really assert herself. Parker scored nine of her team's first 12 points in the second quarter. The Sun were able to open up an 11-point lead, 41-30, but then went over three minutes without a point allowing the Sparks to get back into it.

With the game tied at 41 just before the half, Alex Bentley broke the scoring drought for Connecticut, converting a layup as the halftime buzzer sounded. Bentley finished with 14 points, and only scored two after halftime.

The second half turned into a defensive battle, which seemed to favor Los Angeles. The Sparks scored seven quick points early in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time in the game. Los Angeles would never trail again, scoring 14 of the first 19 points from either team in the second half.

"We had ourselves in a good position to win that game," Sun guard Jasmine Thomas said. "We want to talk about how young we are all the time, but we're trying to play older. I just think we didn't respond. We never got the consecutive stops we needed to get back into the game."

The Sun battled, keeping the deficit from ever reaching double digits. The Sparks always seemed to respond on both ends of the floor to halt any momentum. Los Angeles' defense tightened up out of halftime, as they became the team getting more deflections. The Sparks only allowed 29 points in the second half after Connecticut scored 43 in the first 20 minutes.

Connecticut snagged an offensive rebound down three with less than 30 seconds left. Jasmine Thomas had a pretty good look at a three-pointer to tie the game from the right wing, but was unable to hit it. The Sun finished 4-of-14 from behind the arc, after shooting 44 percent from three in the first half.

"I have to say there's a different feeling in that locker room tonight because of how hard they played and how much they stuck together through the adversity," Sun coach Curt Miller said. "I think there's a little more hurt in our locker room, which I think is a good thing. I really think we grew up tonight. We really battled."