Brittney Sykes scored a game-high 21 points on Sunday and the Los Angeles Sparks kept their WNBA playoff hopes alive with a 79-76 win over the Washington Mystics in Washington.
Sykes converted a driving layup with 39.7 seconds left for a 77-74 lead and teammate Olivia Nelson-Ododa made a pair of foul shots with 4.4 seconds remaining to restore a three-point margin.
Washington (20-14) had a chance to tie, but Jordin Canada blocked Natasha Cloud's 3-point heave as time expired.
Cloud had to be restrained from going after the officials after the game, believing she was fouled on the play. Replays showed there was contact on the shot, but it appeared to come after time expired.
Katie Lou Samuelson and Nneka Oguwmike each added 15 points for Los Angeles (13-20), which moved within a game of Phoenix for the final playoff spot. Canada contributed 11 and 12 assists, and Lexie Brown came off the bench to tally 10 points.
Ariel Atkins and reserve Myisha Hines-Allen each scored 20 points for the Mystics, while Shakira Austin added 16. But leading scorer Elena Delle Donne hit just 2 of 12 shots from the field, including three misses in the last two minutes, and managed only eight points.
The teams spent the first quarter trading the lead, with neither one owning more than a four-point advantage. It was fitting that the period ended in a 19-19 tie when Sykes drove for a layup in the final minute.
But Los Angeles made its move in the second quarter. The Sparks executed on offense and frustrated Washington with aggressive defense that forced Delle Donne to the bench with three fouls. The margin reached 13 at one point before an Austin foul shot brought the Mystics within 40-32 at halftime.
Two foul shots by Oguwmike pushed the advantage to 10 again at the 5:40 mark of the third quarter, but Washington chipped away at the lead for the period's remainder. It got as close as four before
Canada made a foul shot with 2.2 seconds left to give Los Angeles a 64-59 edge.
--Field Level Media