PHOENIX Candace Parker scored 34 points, the most ever in a WNBA debut, and added 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the defending champion Phoenix Mercury 99-94 Saturday in the season opener.
The previous high in a WNBA debut was 25 points by Cynthia Cooper in 1997.
The game was tied at 79 early in the fourth quarter when Parker, who led Tennessee to back-to-back NCAA titles, took over. She scored 10 straight to give the Sparks an 89-86 lead with 3:15 left.
Parker, who made 6-of-7 shots in the fourth, hit a hook shot to put the Sparks up 97-94 with 12 seconds to go.
Parker wore a brace on her left shoulder, which she dislocated during the NCAA tournament.
Parker came within two assists of becoming the first WNBA rookie to record a triple-double. Only one NBA player did it in his debut Oscar Robertson, in 1960.
Cappie Pondexter scored 32 points for Phoenix but missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 4 seconds to go. Lisa Leslie, who missed last season on maternity leave, had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks.
SHOCK 85, COMETS 66: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Katie Smith scored 21 points and Plenette Pierson added 17.
SUN 100, DREAM 67: At Uncasville, Conn., Tamika Whitmore had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Atlanta, the newest franchise in the WNBA.
FEVER 64, MYSTICS 53: At Indianapolis, Katie Douglas scored 24 points in her Indiana debut.