LOS ANGELES -- Defense and unselfish play have the Los Angeles Sparks on quite a roll.
DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 12 of her 23 points in the fourth quarter and the Sparks rallied for a 77-70 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Friday night.
Marie Ferdinand-Harris added 18 points, and Ticha Penicheiro had 13 assists and seven rebounds for the Sparks (10-17), who have won four of five. Los Angeles moved into a third-place tie in the Western Conference with San Antonio, percentage points ahead of fourth-place Minnesota with seven games left.
"We have limited our turnovers, we've rebounded, and we shared the ball," Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom said of her team's recent success. "Those are the three keys I've been telling them that we have to do every game in order to win."
Ivory Latta scored 16 points for the Shock (5-23). Scholanda Robinson and Tiffany Jackson each added eight points, and Jackson and Chante Black both grabbed nine rebounds.
Tulsa, which led by as many as 11 points, held a 55-53 advantage with 7:15 left, but Milton-Jones scored six points during a 10-3 surge that put Los Angeles ahead 68-58 with 3:57 remaining.
"We found a lot of mismatch opportunities," Milton-Jones said. "We started being more aggressive in transition, running the ball and being more aggressive with our offensive movements instead of being so stagnant."
The Shock built a 12-2 lead in the first 5:25 by forcing six turnovers and converting them into six points. The Sparks didn't make a basket until 4:03 remained in the first quarter.
Latta led the spurt with six points.
"They're physicality was very surprising," Gillom said of the Shock. "It just disrupted us a lot."
Los Angeles narrowed the deficit to 16-13 at the end of the first quarter but an 8-0 run gave Tulsa a 24-13 lead with 7:56 left in the first half.
"We were playing fast and we were out of sync," Milton-Jones said. "But I knew we were going to be OK."
The Sparks' fastbreak accounted for six of their 21 points in the third quarter. Milton-Jones scored nine points and Penicheiro had five assists and four rebounds. Los Angeles made eight of 15 shots in the period.
"We had a couple of defensive breakdowns and they kept running at will," Latta said. "It hurts to be up by 12 or so and then lose the game like this."
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