LOS ANGELES (WNBA) - Candace Parker owns a pair of Olympic gold medals with the USA and she has plenty of honors from her time as a professional player at home and abroad.
What she has yet to do is win an WNBA title and that's not going to happen in 2013.
Brittney Griner, who figures to don the USA jersey herself in the coming years, possibly as early as the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey, hit a turnaround jumper on the baseline with 4.9 second remaining to lift the Phoenix Mercury to a 78-77 triumph over Parker's Los Angeles Sparks in Monday's deciding third game of the Western Conference Semi-Final series.
Parker, who had only a few seconds before put the Sparks in front, tried to win at the end but missed an attempt from the perimeter.
"I'm sick of always being on this podium talking after a loss," Parker said.
The Sparks bowed out of the post-season for the second year in a row with a one-point defeat.
Last year they reached the Western Conference Finals but the Minnesota Lynx completed a sweep of the series with an 80-79 victory.
"Clearly, we keep losing by one point at the end of the season so it's something we're doing," Parker said.
Next up for Phoenix will be a showdown with Minnesota, the WNBA champions of two years ago and runners-up last season.
Minnesota swept the Seattle Storm in two games to advance.
In the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Indiana Fever won both of their games against the Chicago Sky to advance but the Atlanta Dream had to go the distance to overcome the Washington Mystics.
Erika De Souza carried the team on her back in an 80-72 Game 3 victory over the Dream.
The Brazil national team center finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Tina Thompson, who made her WNBA bow with the Houston Comets back in 1997 - when the league started out - and spent the past two seasons with the Storm, played in her final game in the series against Minnesota.
The Storm forward, 38, averaged 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 2013.
Thompson is the league's all-time leading scorer with 8,074 points.
The only player to have competed in all 17 WNBA seasons, Thompson has also logged more minutes (17,669) than any other player in the history of the league.
Named the WNBA's Most Valuable Player in 2000, Thompson had a leading role in the USA Olympic gold-medal winning sides of 2004 and 2008.
In 2006, she was in the USA team that finished third at the FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil.
Thompson was also a star with Spartak Moscow Region, leading the Russian giants to EuroLeague Women titles in 2007 and '08.
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day