Natasha Cloud (31 pts) guides short-handed Mercury past Sparks

WNBA: Las Vegas Aces at Connecticut SunSep 29, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; A game ball waits on a sanitation cart during game 5 of the WNBA semifinals between the Connecticut Suns and the Las Vegas Aces at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Natasha Cloud scored 31 points, including four in the last minute, to help the injury-riddled Phoenix Mercury pull away from the Los Angeles Sparks in an 84-78 road victory on Sunday.

Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi (lower left leg) did not make the trip to Los Angeles, while Rebecca Allen warmed up with the Mercury but did not play because of a lower back injury.

Cloud made a jumper with 1:54 left to pull Phoenix within 76-75. After a Sparks shot-clock violation, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan made a 3-pointer to slide the Mercury ahead 78-76 with 1:10 remaining.

Harrigan, in her third year in the WNBA, made her first career start, replacing Allen in the lineup.

Los Angeles rookie Rickea Jackson scored a season-high 22 points and tied the game at 78 with 41.1 seconds left following an offensive rebound.

Cloud answered by driving to the basket to put Phoenix ahead 80-78 with 35.1 seconds remaining.

Following a missed 3-pointer by Aari McDonald, Cloud was fouled with 23 seconds left. She made both free throws to help seal the victory.

Cloud also finished with nine rebounds and five assists as the Mercury (11-10) won consecutive games on the road for the first time this season.

The Sparks (5-16), meanwhile, could not build on their home win over the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces on Friday night. They have lost nine of their last 10 games.

Kahleah Copper was the only other Phoenix player to score in double figures with 25 points. She also contributed 10 rebounds and five assists.

Dearica Hamby had 25 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles, outplaying Brittney Griner at the post. Griner finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

The Mercury did not score in the fourth quarter until Cloud made a jump shot to put Phoenix ahead 67-65 with 6:40 left. Azura Stevens then made a jumper to tie the game.

After a Mercury turnover, Hamby drilled a 3-pointer with 5:39 remaining to put the Sparks ahead 70-67 — their first lead since a 9-8 advantage with 6:18 remaining in the first quarter.

–Field Level Media

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