Sparks win 9th straight, clinch WNBA playoff spot

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Brittney Sykes scored 15 points, Chelsea Gray had 14 — including back-to-back baskets in the final minute — and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Atlanta Dream 84-79 on Sunday night to win their ninth consecutive game and clinch a spot in the WNBA playoffs.

Los Angeles is the third team to seal a playoff berth, joining the WNBA-leading Seattle and Las Vegas.

Nneka Ogwumike left in the first half and did not return for the Sparks due to a back injury. Kristine Anigwe started the second half in Ogwumike’s place and finished with nine points and six rebounds. Candace Parker had just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting but added 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Chennedy Carter, who played 17 minutes Friday against Minnesota in her return from a five-game absence due to an ankle injury suffered on Aug. 10, led the Dream with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Courtney Williams scored 15 points and Monique Billings added 12 points and 14 rebounds.

MERCURY 83, LYNX 79

Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 13 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter, Diana Taurasi had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Phoenix held off Minnesota for its third victory in a row.

Diggins-Smith made all of her 11 free-throw attempts, including four in the final 13 seconds. Brianna Turner scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked four shots for Phoenix (9-7).

Crystal Dangerfield scored 15 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter for Minnesota (10-5).

SUN 76, MYSTICS 63

DeWanna Bonner had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Alyssa Thomas added 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and Connecticut beat Washington.

Rookie Kaila Charles scored a season-high 16 points for Connecticut (7-9). Emma Meesseman and Ariel Atkins had 14 points apiece for Washington (4-11).

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