Kristi Toliver was struggling -- until the Lynx came to L.A.

After going scoreless in her previous game and not even taking a shot, Toliver scored 29 points and Candace Parker 28 as the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Lynx 96-90 on Thursday afternoon at Staples Arena.

Toliver, a point guard, was six-for-six on three-pointers and had six assists. She must have watched San Antonio's Becky Hammon make seven threes against the Lynx on Sunday.

Inside Candace Parker, a 6-4 forward, scored 28 points and had 13 rebounds for L.A. She also made more free throws than the Lynx did. She was 12 of 17, the Lynx nine of 17. Those missed free throws proved costly.

L.A. was 28 of 34 at the free throw line. That's a team difference of 19 points in that one category.

The Lynx as usual had balance -- five players in double figures -- but nobody had a dominant game. Do they have a go-to player in a tough game?

Seimone Augustus had 18 points, Maya Moore 14 and then it drops off to Rebekkah Brunson with 11 and two reserves, Candice Wiggins and Amber Harris, with 10 apiece.

The Lynx got down by as many as 20 points (77-57) early in the fourth quarter. But a spirited 15-2 run got them within 84-78 and, in the last seconds, they were within four points.

The Lynx (13-3) had won the last five games with L.A. (11-6). The Sparks are now within 2-1/2 games of the defending WNBA champions.

Next game for the Lynx is Saturday, back home. They play East leader Connecticut at Target Center where the Lynx are 8-0 this season and have won 14 consecutive games counting last year's playoffs.