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LA overcomes technicals, foul trouble to beat Phoenix

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Foul trouble, physicality and more foul trouble were the name of the game for the Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks in Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals. Despite the adversity for mostly LA and the first half momentum of Phoenix, the Sparks found a way to get it done.

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Los Angeles, CA — Candace Parker had as many points (two) as she did fouls (two) with four minutes to go in the first quarter. She also had half as many good ankles (one) as she did points (two) before the game even started.

To open period two, Parker had more fouls (three) than she did points (two).

If my math is correct, Los Angeles had to fight through some adversity in Game 1 of the WNBA Playoff Semifinals against Phoenix – a best-of-five series.

Despite the Mercury’s red-hot start, the Sparks tied up the game 19-19 with 2:20 left in the first and trailed by just four going into the second.

The Sparks also didn’t hit a trey until the last couple minutes of the half and Brittney Griner looked all but guardable after dropping 14 points on 4-6 from the field in the first 20 minutes of action alone.

The only player who had more points (14) than team fouls (12) at the end of the half was Griner. Odyssey Sims was the only player for the Sparks who had double-figure points (10) heading into the locker room – but it was still two less than team fouls (12) for Los Angeles.

“I’m proud of us with how we adjusted in terms of, if it’s physical,” shared Parker. “If the game’s called a certain way, we adjusted to it. I’m proud of our team and how we settled down coming out at halftime and really did what we were supposed to do.”

All things considered, including a personal-foul-laden game (46 to be exact), not even math could have predicted a tie game at halftime… or a 6-0 run for Los Angeles to jumpstart the second half….or Parker being whistled for her fourth foul with six minutes left in the third…or a career playoff low six points for Diana Taurasi.

“It’s a team effort,” said Los Angeles’ Brian Agler on containing Taurasi. “They’re going to set a lot of screens on and off the ball for Diana & you’ve got to give her some support, you’ve got to give Alana support. You got to be out there, you got to be ready to switch, can’t let her do the things she wants to do. You’ve got to give Alana time to get back in the play & it takes a tremendous amount of teamwork.”

A monster third quarter for the Sparks that equated to holding Phoenix to a mere six points sent a message: it really is no bother trying to predict the playoffs. Because as soon as you do, the reigning WNBA champs blow up in the fourth quarter and shut down Griner to take Game 1 of the Semifinals.

Predictability doesn’t stand a chance this time of the year.