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Lavender is Gold: Sparks win behind Lavender's 24 points

The Los Angeles Sparks were able to hold off the San Antonio Stars, as they were led by a player who is an All-Star, but is someone that is sometimes unheralded.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles, CA -- In front of the largest franchise crowd to date, the Los Angeles Sparks were a commanding force, defeating the San Antonio Stars 60-52. The energy in the Staples Center was crisp and fierce as Kristi Toliver kicked off the first quarter with a huge three for the Sparks.

Toliver was on fire with nine points and one steal in the first four minutes of the game to command the Sparks lead.  A traveling turnover by Jayne Appel kept the Stars down as the Sparks continued their offensive streak. The Stars were able to get into an offensive rhythm late in the first with a steal from Danielle Robinson but were met with a huge block by Candace Parker.

Alex Montgomery came up with a huge three with a minute left in the quarter to cut the lead 20-16. Despite the Sparks high defensive pressure, The Stars were able to push back in the last minute of the quarter to cut the lead 22-19 going into the second. The Sparks shot 60% from the field while the Stars trailed, shooting only 43.8% from the field at the end of the first quarter.

Sydney Colson broke out early in the second with an easy layup to give the Stars their first points of the second quarter, cutting the lead to one.

Candace Parker answered with a three and the Sparks stayed on top, as Adams committed a three-second violation to turn the ball over to the Sparks. Both teams fell in an offensive slump halfway through the second quarter, shooting only 20% and 23.5% from the field.

An assist down the paint by Sophia Young-Malcolm put the Stars back on the board, 25-29 but a spirited Jantel Lavender was a force under the basket with a huge rebound and a three-point play in the final minute, keeping the Sparks in the lead going into the half. Toliver and Lavender lead the Sparks going into the half with 11 points each while Young-Malcolm led the Stars with eight points.

The Stars came out with great offensive control and formation, as Sophia Young-Malcolm drew the foul from Parker, making 1 of 2. The Sparks answered with a fired up Jantel Lavender, but a cross-court pass to Sophia Young-Malcolm cut the sparks lead to five.

A steal by Ana Dabovic and a perfect shot by Beard brought the Sparks to their biggest lead of the game, forcing the Stars to take a time-out. Easy turnovers by the Stars and defensive pressure from the Sparks kept their lead alive towards the end of the third.

Jantel Lavender continued to stand out with high energy, leading both teams with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Sophia Young-Malcolm continued to lead the Stars with 11 points and Jayne Appel lead with 11 rebounds going into the 4th. The Sparks again outscored the Stars 36% to 28.8% leading 47 to 36 going into the 4th.

Both teams again fell into an offensive slump, failing to score in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Sparks had great formation offensively but struggled to get their shots to drop.

The Stars continued to struggle offensively, failing ever to gain the lead in the game. An enormous drive by Ana Dabovic brought the Sparks lead up to 9 in the final minute of the game and the Sparks officially dominated in a 60-52 win. The loss officially eliminates the Stars from the playoff picture.

Jantel Lavender had a season-high 24 points with 8 rebounds with Kristi Toliver just behind her with 15 points. Candace Parker continued her double-double streak to 11 with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jia Perkins led the Stars in scoring with 15 points with Sophia Young-Malcolm just behind her with 11 points.