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Sparks and Lynx on the horizon for Mercury's winning streak

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It seems the new question surrounding the Phoenix Mercury after 15 straight wins is who will be able to stop it.

After letting a 19-point lead be reduced to seven in the third quarter of Saturday’s game, the Mercury (21-3) rolled to a 78-63 home win over the New York Liberty (10-14).

“The team looks good,” Mercury forward Candice Dupree said. “Every now and then we have a few lapses, and we’re able to play through them, basketball’s a game of runs. We still have to play Atlanta, Minnesota’s always a challenge for us. I just hope we get that challenge before the playoffs start. If we keep pushing and playing defense we’ll be OK.”

The Mercury’s next test will come at 7 p.m. Tuesday when the Los Angeles Sparks visit, the franchise that owns the record of 18 consecutive wins set in 2001. Phoenix will then head to Minnesota (19-6) for a showdown with the second-place and defending-champion Lynx July 31, a team it has already defeated twice this season after years of misery.

Phoenix has won three times in Los Angeles in 2014, twice by five and by 20 on Thursday, limiting Candace Parker to 5-of-17 shooting.

“They’re going to try a lot of things,” Mercury center Brittney Griner said. “They’re going to try to play us physical, they’re going to get in our head, get us mad. Just keep a cool head and a hot game, and keep playing like we did and get the win.”

The Sparks are just 11-14 despite Parker (19.8 ppg and 7.3 rpg) and fellow All-Star Nneka Ogwumike (15.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg) playing every game and Jantel Lavender emerging with 12.3 points per game.

The week that followed the classic 125-124 overtime win for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game at Phoenix was no short of memorable performances from around the WNBA.

Tuesday, Maya Moore scored 48 points, the second-most in league history, during the Minnesota Lynx’s 112-108 OT home win over the Atlanta Dream (15-8), in a rematch of last season’s Finals. Sancho Lyttle also scored 26 with 12 rebounds for the Dream, which played its first game since it was announced that coach Michael Cooper has tongue cancer. It was broadcast Saturday on NBA TV that Coach Cooper had a successful surgery.

Wednesday, San Antonio Stars guard Becky Hammon announced she would retire at the end of the season, her 16th in the league. The 37-year-old six-time All-Star is seventh in career points, fourth in assists and sixth in total games.

Thursday, Temeka Johnson, the 5-foot-3 Seattle Storm guard who played for the Mercury from 2009 to 2011, recorded the sixth triple-double in WNBA history with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in an 84-80 OT home loss to the Liberty. It was the league’s first triple-double since Deanna Nolan had one for Detroit in 2005.

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