Hoffman scores 16 points to lead Fever past Sparks

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ebony Hoffman scored 16 points to help the Indiana Fever beat the Los Angeles Sparks 76-57 on Thursday night and move into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Katie Douglas and Jessica Davenport each scored 13 points for the Fever (14-7), who have won five of six. Tamika Catchings, who had scored at least 20 points in four straight games, finished with 11 points, six rebounds and six steals for Indiana.

Tina Thompson scored 19 points for Los Angeles (6-16), which dropped to 1-10 on the road. No other Sparks player scored in double figures.

Los Angeles' loss clinched a playoff berth for league-best Seattle (19-2).

The Fever, the WNBA leaders in scoring defense, turnovers forced and field-goal percentage defense, held the Sparks to 21 points and six field goals in the second half to win easily after trailing 36-35 at the break.

Indiana held Los Angeles scoreless for the first 4 minutes of the second half and forced six turnovers during that stretch, but the Fever only scored five points during that time and temporarily left the Sparks in the game.

Indiana went on an 8-0 run that included 3-pointers by Hoffman and Douglas to take a 51-45 lead with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

Indiana led 56-45 at the end of the third quarter, holding the Sparks to 3-for-12 shooting and a season low-tying nine points in the period.

Los Angeles didn't score again until 6:22 remained in the fourth quarter and didn't make another field goal until the 3:46 mark. During one stretch, the Fever held the Sparks scoreless for more than 11 minutes in the second half while the Sparks missed 13 consecutive field goals.

Indiana fell behind 15-6 but closed the first quarter with a 16-6 run to lead 22-21 at the end of the period. Los Angeles trailed despite shooting 56 percent in the first quarter.

Hoffman made a layup, then got a steal under the basket and quickly made another layup to give Indiana a 35-34 lead late in the second quarter, but a reverse layup by Ticha Penicheiro gave the Sparks the halftime lead.