Candace Parker leads Los Angeles Sparks to 83-75 triumph over Seattle Storm
Parker earns season-high in win over Storm
LOS ANGELES – Halfway through the second quarter of an energetic game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Seattle Storm, Candace Parker hit the deck hard, and held her left ankle. The 12,820 fans in the Staples Center held their breath as the Sparks forward and two-time MVP – playing in just her second game after a right ankle sprain sidelined her for three weeks – stayed on the ground for a few minutes.
Yet following a timeout, Parker stayed in the game. And her star presence was a game-changer for Los Angeles, which beat the defending champs 83-75.
“I just dove for the ball like an idiot,” Parker explained.
Her reasoning for that play notwithstanding, Parker’s play was anything but idiotic. She led all scorers with 21 points, needing fewer than 25 minutes to hit that mark. She also added seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Facing a star-filled and athletic Seattle backcourt, Los Angeles played one of their strongest defensive games. Storm All-Star guard Jewell Loyd and budding young star Jordin Canada combined for just 10 points and four assists, while turning the ball over seven times and shooting just 3-for-17 from the field.
“[Our guards] did a good job of making things difficult for them,” Parker said. “Fighting through screens, giving the extra effort. And I think our help side was great, in terms of taking away the driving lanes, and not allowing them to see the openings.”
It was a different story than the last time these teams met, when Loyd torched the Sparks for 23 points, en route to an 84-62 Storm victory. While Los Angeles’ rotations were crisp all night, forcing 19 turnovers, it was the individual assignments where the Sparks made life difficult for Seattle’s backcourt.
“I think we were better at the point of attack with both players today,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher said. “We’ve done a good job of trying to reinforce our team defense, and sometimes at the detriment of taking pride in our individual defense. I thought that Sydney [Wiese], Chelsea [Gray], Alexis [Jones], TRP (Tierra Ruffin-Pratt), they just kind of took pride in their individual defense, and then our bigs were really, really active.”
It was a different story with the forwards, as Seattle got 16 points from Alysha Clark on perfect 6-for-6 shooting, including 4-for-4 from three-point range. MVP candidate Natasha Howard added 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
The Sparks stars, however, answered that challenge, with forward Nneka Ogwumike netting her tenth double-double of the year, with 13 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Gray added 10 points and eight assists.
Los Angeles, which lead by as many as 17 points, before a fourth quarter run by Seattle, also received strong bench contributions from unexpected places. Forward-center Maria Vadeeva, playing in just her third game of the year, scored 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting. And rookie guard Marina Mabrey, who played in just one minute during Thursday’s victory over the Las Vegas Aces, added 10 points in more than 15 minutes of play.
Winners of six of their last seven, the Sparks (13-8) get three days off before hosting the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday. They hope to welcome back forward-center Chiney Ogwumike, who has missed two consecutive games with a jaw injury. The Storm (12-11) host the Dallas Wings on Thursday.
- Points in the Paint: Storm 38, Sparks 40
- Second Chance Points: Storm 9, Sparks 9
- Fastbreak Points: Storm 5, Sparks 12
- Biggest Lead: Storm 3, Sparks 17
- Lead Changes: 6
- Times Tied: 3
- Attendance: 12,820