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Taurasi eyes scoring record as Mercury visit Sparks

Diana Taurasi will have a chance to become the WNBA's all-time leading scorer when the Phoenix Mercury visit the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Taurasi, a three-time WNBA champion, needs 14 points to break the league record of 7,488 set by Tina Thompson from 1997-2013.

"I think it's huge," Taurasi told ESPN. "Obviously, Tina's on top. Tina's just been so great for the game of basketball, men's or women's, really. She set the standard so high, and I just have the ultimate respect for her. So to even come close to this, I would have never dreamed of it as a little kid. It's just great for our league to keep setting the bar higher for our next generation, too."

Phoenix (6-4) has won two of its last three games and four of six since suffering a 69-67 loss to New York. Brittney Griner scored 27 points and Taurasi added 15 to lead the Mercury to an 86-78 victory over Chicago on Friday.

Los Angeles (6-3) has won three in a row and five of its last six since suffering back-to-back road losses against Indiana and Atlanta. The Sparks are coming off an 80-75 victory over the winless San Antonio Stars. The Sparks nearly squandered a 20-point second-half lead, but big baskets by Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray helped them withstand a late charge by the Stars.

Parker led Los Angeles with 20 points and Gray had 19 in the win over San Antonio. Nneka Ogwumike, the reigning WNBA MVP, had 16 points and nine rebounds.

It was the second game in a row that the Sparks nearly blew a big lead. They led Dallas 72-52 going into the fourth quarter Tuesday before the Wings battled back to get within eight.

"No matter what your lead is, you can't let your guard down like that," Ogwumike told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Earlier this week, Parker explained that she is wearing orange sneakers as a tribute to the late Pat Summitt, her college coach at Tennessee. Summitt, who died June 28, 2016, following a five-year battle with Alzheimer's disease, led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championships and amassed 1,098 career wins, the most in NCAA history.

"I'll be wearing orange kicks all June," Parker told the Press-Telegram following Tuesday's win over Dallas. "It was my coach's birthday and the month she passed away."

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