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L.A. Sparks show appreciation for fans beating the Seattle Storm, 77-65

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Getting ready for a Western Conference Semi-Final showdown with either the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx or the Phoenix Mercury, the Los Angeles Sparks took care of business Friday night beating the Seattle Storm on Fan Appreciation Night at Staples Center, 77-65.

L.A. has one game remaining in the regular season before beginning the playoffs. Low and behold it could be a playoff preview with the Sparks finishing the regular season in Phoenix against Brittney Griner and the Mercury.

Candace Parker led the way for the Sparks (16-17) with 24 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists and Kristi Toliver poured in 20 points and dished out six assists for the winners who held a 16 point half-time lead at 48-32 and led by as many as 20 in the third quarter at 56-36.

The Storm (12-21) - who were led by Jenna O’Hea’s career high 16 points - went on an 11-0 run closing the gap at 56-47 midway through the third and trailed by a 60-53 score at the end of the stanza but would get no closer.

“We were on the verge.” Said Sparks coach Penny Toler. “We were up by about 18 and then we got three or four sloppy turnovers. In a game like this you can’t do that.”

L.A. committed 20 turnovers giving up 22 points – seven of those in that third quarter that led to 11 Storm points- letting them right back in the ball game.

“We just wanted to get the win tonight. “ Said Parker. “It’s fan appreciation night, our last home game. I think we did a good job coming out but we just had spurts where we weren’t focused.”

L.A. will have to show some focus Saturday night in Phoenix when they finish the regular season against the league’s best team – the Mercury – who’ve beaten L.A. in all their match ups this season.

A win coupled with a San Antonio loss gives the Sparks the third seed and they can hop on a plane to open the post season against the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.

Or L.A. gets the fourth seed and can stay in the Valley of the Sun where the Sparks will face the Mercury.

Basically, pick your poison.