Candace Parker shines as Sparks take down Sky, 88-77, earn first road win
The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Chicago Sky 88-77 on Friday night. Sparks forward and two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker recorded 31 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles in only her second game of the season.
“We were excited about playing, and we were hungry,” said Sparks head coach Brian Agler. “We want to get back in the playoff race. Candace playing at home is a big motivating factor for her, which always helps. We just came out ready.”
Elena Delle Donne led the Sky with 21 points and Courtney Vandersloot tied a career-high and Sky record with 13 assists. The Sky suffered their first home loss since June 30th and had won five consecutive home games prior to tonight.
The Sky got off to a quick start, beginning the game on an 8-2 run. Parker brought the Sparks back, however, scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone. At the end of the first, the Sparks led the Sky 22-16. Delle Donne paced the Sky with six points.
The Sky fought back in the second quarter, led by two three-pointers off the bench from Allie Quigley and seven more points from Delle Donne. Parker continued to pace Los Angeles, finishing the half with 17 points. The Sky took their first lead of the second quarter with 2:34 remaining on a Vandersloot lay-up. The two teams proceeded to trade baskets in the quarter’s remaining minutes. At the half, the Sky and Sparks were tied at 39.
Los Angeles began the third quarter on a 7-2 run but the Sky managed to regain the lead 49-48 on a Cappie Pondexter free throw with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter. The Sky led by as many as five during the third quarter but could not find significant separation as the Sparks cut Chicago’s lead to just one point at the end of the third. Going into the final quarter, the Sky led the Sparks 61-60.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Sparks took a 65-64 lead on a free throw by Toliver, their first lead since the middle of the third quarter. The Sparks duo of Parker and Toliver proved to be too much for the Sky as the two combined for 21 points in the fourth quarter and 51 points in the contest. Los Angeles held on to defeat Chicago 88-77.
“It was only on rare occasions that all five of us were connected defensively and that’s the biggest thing,” said Delle Donne. “If our defense isn’t aggressive, our offense lacks, and that’s what you saw, especially in the fourth quarter.”
The Sparks continue their road trip in Texas facing the San Antonio Stars Sunday. The Sky host the Washington Mystics on the same day.
- The Sparks victory is their first road victory of the season. Los Angeles is now 1-8 on the road.
- In only her second game of the season, Candace Parker’s 31 points is a season-high.
- This is Parker’s first 30-point game since scoring 34 points on 7/15/14 vs. Indiana.
- Parker and Kristi Toliver combined for 21 out the Sparks’ 28 fourth quarter points as well as combining for 51 out of the team’s 88 total points.
- Courtney Vandersloot’s 13 assists tied her career high and the franchise record. She also had 13 assists on 5/30/14 vs. Connecticut. Vandersloot now leads the league in assists per game averaging 5.5 apg.
- Led by Allie Quigley’s eight points, the Sky’s bench outscored the Sparks’ bench 17-4.
- Elena Delle Donne’s 21 points were her 14th 20-plus game of the season.
- Eleven out of Delle Donne’s 21 points came from the free-throw line. Delle Donne went 11-for-12 from the line. Despite missing a free-throw in tonight’s game, she has never missed two consecutive free throws in her WNBA career.
- Even after falling tonight to Los Angeles, the Sky’s 7-2 home record is the best home record in the Eastern Conference.
- This was the Sky’s first home loss since falling on 6/30 to New York 89-81.
Chicago Sky head coach and general manager Pokey Chatman
(On the Sparks’ offensive rhythm…)
“I think from the beginning we let Los Angeles get really comfortable in their offensive set and they maintained that throughout, except a little bit in the third quarter. We had some solid minutes of defense as well but I never felt like we disrupted them to the tone of them shooting about 48 percent. But I give them credit, they made shots when they had to make shots, that’s what good players do.”
(On players being in their comfort zone…)
“Great players get momentum and they get comfortable, they get confident and I think that played into it. It wasn’t like anyone was running any magic plays. You get players in comfortable position; we talk about not letting players catch it at the elbow. They are catching it at the elbow; they are really close to the basket. I think they imposed their will and got some looks in areas that they wanted to.”
(On Candace Parker’s strong game tonight…)
“Well I give Candace credit; she got to the free throw line. I think her mindset is different. She is attacking from the perimeter, mid-range and to the basket. That is something that I think she has as a mindset because she is fresh and rested.”
Chicago Sky guard/forward Elena Delle Donne
(On going against Candace Parker…)
“It’s never just one on one, it’s five on five at all times. It was only on rare occasions that all five of us were connected defensively and that’s the biggest thing. If our defense isn’t aggressive, our offense lacks, and that’s what you saw, especially in the fourth quarter.”
(On changes to make during remainder of home stand…)
“We need to pick up our defense by being much more aggressive and taking teams out of their comfort zone.”
Chicago Sky forward Cheyenne Parker
(On her defensive mindset tonight…)
“No different from the entire game just having the mindset to be aggressive defensively and to be in help side. The block on Candace was just a help-side reaction.
(On the overall communication on the court…)
“Our communication is always really good especially when there are free throws and dead balls we always come together and talk about the next defensive or offensive play. But like Elena said, the issue was just our defensive aggression.”
(On playing on the court as a Rookie with a veteran like Candace Parker…)
“I didn’t really have to guard Parker and I could imagine what it would’ve been like but as far as being on the court with her, I used to idolize her growing up so it was an exciting feeling to be on the court playing against her.”
Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler
(On the Sparks first road win…)
“Candace’s presence makes us a lot better. We just have to steadily keep improving. We’re really excited about tonight, we played well and beat a good team but we have to get ready for the next one.”
Los Angeles Sparks Forward Candace Parker
(On mentality of being back…)
“We don’t have a lot of time to waste, so I’ve just gotten back into it. My teammates have done a good job of talking me through things. I’m still learning defensively mostly. I’ve got all the plays, but defensively learning the system.”
(On similarities between herself and Elena Delle Donne…)
“She’s hard to guard. She’s a triple threat: she puts the ball on the floor, she goes to the basket and she gets to the line. She does a lot of good things. I think she’s more of a pure shooter than I am. I think I’m more of an off the dribble type of player. But, I definitely do [see the similarities].”
(On comfort of playing in Chicago…)
“It’s nice to look up in the stands and see familiar faces and reminisce. Chicago has been really good to me. It’s nice to be back and play in front of my hometown. Obviously we needed this win, so there were different reasons to get pumped up.”
Los Angeles Sparks Guard Kristi Toliver
(On the Sparks finding their rhythm…)
“This is a very special team. We’ve been through a lot. We are continuing to learn through losses we had. With this win, hopefully that will be us turning a corner. We’ve had a lot of different people coming in and out, a lot of different line-ups, and a lot of injuries. Right now we have everyone healthy. It feels good to have everyone here.”
(On offensive momentum tonight…)
“We were being really aggressive. We wanted to make sure we moved the ball that we got the ball on both sides of the floor and made basketball plays. We have a lot of great players on this team that can do a lot of great things, so when we can play as a team and get the ball moving good things happen. Defensively, we really wanted to limit Chicago and their transition game. That’s where they are very dominant.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Sparks 42, Sky 34
Second Chance Points: Sparks 10, Sky 5
Fastbreak Points: Sparks 8, Sky 8
Biggest Lead: Sparks 12, Sky 6
Lead Changes: 9
Times Tied: 10