Candace Parker shines as Sparks hand Sun home defeat, 87-81

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Just over six thousand spectators and a national television audience were witness to one of the best individual performances seen on a basketball court in recent months.

No, it was not Kevin Durant or Lebron James, but it was the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker, who made her first full-length, professional visit to Connecticut (her last appearance was after she returned from pregnancy). Parker was dominant on both ends of the court. Her statistical numbers were phenomenal. She totaled 33 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, along with five blocks and three steals. It was her work on the defensive end that had her most proud, however.

“I was more proud of myself, I stayed in tune defensively, and that’s something I don’t think I have done throughout my career. One of the goals I set for myself before the season was I want to make the All-Defensive team, and with Coach Carol [Ross] helping me try to improve my defense, and Alana [Beard] staying on me about staying in tune, I’ve realized that I could have done better defensively up until this point.”

Parker likes how the defense fuels her offense as well. “When I play defense it gives me an advantage because I’m in the open court, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Parker was not the only Sparks’ weapon, as rookie Nnemkadi Ogwumike shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor and 4-of4 from the line en route to eighteen points. The frontcourt trio of Parker, Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender outscored the Connecticut trio of Tina Charles, Asjha Jones and Mistie Mims 61 to 32.

Charles led Connecticut with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but shot only 8-for-26 from the floor, including several crucial misses in the fourth quarter, when she was 3-for-10.

As a team the Sun shot only 23 percent for the second half, but not all of it was Los Angeles’ defense.

“I honestly thought we had a lot of wide open shots,” Renee Montgomery (4-for-15 for the game) said. “We have to knock them down; when someone plays zone, we just have to knock it down when we’re open.”

“They are a long team,” she continued, “and that is always going to cause a problem when you are trying to shoot over someone that’s taller than you, but a lot of our shots were open and just didn’t go down.”

Connecticut now has two losses on the season, to the top two teams of the Western Conference, on their home court. Those losses could end up being crucial down the stretch when playoff seedings are determined.

As for the Sparks, as Parker said, “The scary part is we didn’t play well today; we didn’t play well as a team. Minnesota is obviously the team to beat. They are undefeated. They have gone into numerous arenas. We have new personnel, new faces we have to put into the system, and we have a lot of injuries. We’re just trying to learn while we win.”

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One Comment

  • big road W by LA vs gud SUN team. and that's without kristi shooting well n nicky anosike rehabin. candace n tamika ONLY mvp candidates thus far :)

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