July 21, 2018 / 5:15 PM / 5 months ago

Pondexter, Dupree help Fever hold-off Sparks

Candice Dupree and Cappie Pondexter scored 16 points apiece to help the Indiana Fever record a stunning 78-76 upset of the host Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night at Staples Center.

Phoenix Mercury head coach Corey Gaines (L) talks to Cappie Pondexter in the first quarter after Pondexter had a technical foul called on her against the Indiana Fever during Game One of the WNBA finals in Phoenix, Arizona, September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

Natalie Achonwa scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting as the WNBA-worst Fever (3-21) ended a five-game losing streak. Victoria Vivians added 11 points for Indiana, which lost by an average of 23.2 points during the slide.

Candace Parker had 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to pace Los Angeles (14-10). Jantel Lavender added 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Sparks, who shot 45.7 percent from the field.

The Sparks staged a frantic rally and trimmed a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to 78-76 on Chelsea Gray’s layup with 15.8 seconds to play.

Indiana’s Erica Wheeler turned the ball over with five seconds left but both Parker and Essence Carson missed shots in the final second as Los Angeles fell for the seventh time in 10 games.

The Fever shot 43.1 percent from the field, and made 9 of 23 3-pointers.

The Fever quickly moved into the lead as Wheeler connected on a 3-pointer and Achonwa followed with a three-point play to give Indiana a 45-41 edge with 7:55 left in the first half. The Sparks rallied to grab a three-point edge at the break.

Pondexter, who was cut by the Sparks in late June, scored five points to start a 12-3 push late in the third that give the Fever a 63-48 lead with 1:45 remaining. Los Angeles rattled off the next six points before Kelsey Mitchell hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, capping a 29-point third period and giving Indiana a 66-54 lead entering the fourth quarter.

A basket by Pondexter gave the Fever a 70-56 lead with 8:39 to play before the Sparks ripped off 10 straight and pulled within four on Parker’s hoop with 5:08 left. Wheeler and Dupree answered with back-to-back jumpers to move Indiana ahead 74-66 with 4:22 remaining.

Los Angeles made another charge and pulled within 77-74 on Gray’s turnaround jumper with 27.6 seconds left.

Wheeler split two free throws with 21.6 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.

Lavender had 19 first-half points and Parker added 12 as Los Angeles held a 40-37 lead at the break.

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