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LA Sparks home opener not so Magical at Staples Center

Candace Parkers vs Brittney Griner
Eric Wade/ EW Gems

On the opening night at Staples Center under new ownership of Magic Johnson, Mark Walter, and the Guggenheim Partners, as the Sparks failed to secure a victory against the Phoenix Mercury in a 74-69 loss.

Johnson watched the game court side and seemed to be impressed with the team, notably Parker who finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Parker had been on a tare since their early first round exit last season against the Mercury.

Parker never shied away from responsibility as a leader, however embraced her role as she encouraged her teammates as well as the followed the direction of head coach Carol Ross.

Parker picked up the slack in the absence of Nneka Ogwumike who was sidelined with a back injury she suffered last Friday in Seattle.

"We just have to continue to grow, it's still early in the season," Parker said. "Her [Nneka] presence on both ends of the floor was missed, and we knew we would be playing without her. So we just have to regroup and stay ready."

The Sparks came out flat and dug themselves a huge hole in the first quarter, however rebounded in the second quarter and took the lead 30-29 at halftime.

The second half was chippy and a real nail bitter, especially when Parker knocked down two key free throws that gave the Sparks the lead. Diana Taurasi extended the lead with a basket and a pair of free throw, as the Mercury pulled away with a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter.

"You miss those they come back and bite you. Those are the things that if you can really execute, it really helps," said Taurasi. "Those free throws were huge."

Dawanna Bonner iced the game with two free throws, that propelled Phoenix with the victory.

Taurasi finished with 23 points, along with Brittney Griner also finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.

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