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Parker's 34 points lifts Sparks to win over Fever

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- With her team struggling against Indiana, Sparks star Candace Parker took over.

Parker scored 17 of her season-high 34 points in the third quarter to help Los Angeles rally to beat the Fever 86-78 on Tuesday night.

''We were down 10, so the game was at a point where it could have gone either way,'' Parker said. ''We were either going to get back in the game or it was going to be a blow out.''

The Fever (10-12), who led 46-36 at halftime, lost a second half lead for the seventh time in 10 games. Putting an end to the trend of letting late leads slip away is a point of emphasis Fever coach Lin Dunn continues to stress to her team.

And it's a trend that Indiana's players openly acknowledge will cost them precious playoff positioning if they can't keep control of games when they have them in hand - often time by double digits. Indiana was in second place in the Eastern Conference despite entering Tuesday's game below .500.

''We keep talking about the focus, we keep talking about the turnovers, we keep talking about boxing out and playing good defense,'' Tamika Catchings said. ''It's a whole bunch of excuses, that's what it comes down to. You just have to buy in and just do it.''

Playing in her fifth game of the season, Catchings scored 25 points for the Fever after missing the first 17 contests with a strained back. Indiana is now 2-3 with Catchings in the lineup.

While the Fever struggle for consistency, the Sparks (10-11) find themselves winners of a season-best three in a row. And Parker likes where here team is as the first half of the season winds down.

''We've got into our groove,'' she said. ''We've got everybody back and we have a full team finally. Hopefully, we're going to peak at the right time.''

Indiana starting point guard Briann January was announced a reserve for the Eastern Conference in Saturday's All-Star game. She missed Tuesday's game with a bruised right knee.

Nneka Ogwumike, a reserve All-Star for the Western Conference, left the game with a mild strain of her right ankle in the second quarter. She finished with two points and two rebounds for the Sparks.

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