Candace Parker dominated in the Los Angeles Sparks emphatic 77-59 win against the Chicago Sky on Sunday. With this victory, the Sparks (5-2) moved back into first place by a half game in the Western Conference over the Phoenix Mercury (7-3).
Parker led all scorers with 24 points, going 10-14 from the field, while sinking one three pointer. She added six rebounds, three assists and one steal to round off an outstanding afternoon on the court.
The supporting cast today, though, was as good as they’ve been all season long. Nneka Ogwumike scored in double figures for the seventh time this season, ending the game with 16 points. Chelsea Gray chipped in another 15 while dishing out three superb assists.
Sparks Dominate First Quarter
With four minutes left in the first quarter, Gray pulled off one of the best assists of the afternoon. Gray hauled down a rebound and dribbled up court, setting up a play. She found a streaking Ogwumike with an excellent pass over the Sky defense. Ogwumike finished off the move with a simple layup.
The veteran leader, Parker, notched ten of her 24 points in the opening frame. She was nearly immaculate from the field, drilling five of six attempts from the field.
A vast majority of her shots were of the high percentage variety. Four of the five makes occurred around the restricted zone. Parker flashed some skill half way through the quarter. She hit an excellent turnaround hook shot a few feet in front of the free throw line.
Los Angeles’ first quarter performance was really the deciding factor in this match-up. The Sparks were more sharp, more focused and it showed in the way they played. Their defense stepped up early, as noted by the four turnovers by the Sky in the first ten minutes. Because of that aggressiveness, Brian Agler’s squad raced out to a 26-16 lead.
Sky close the Gap in the Second
That edge proved to be vital. To start the second, Ogwumike sank two quick buckets. But then, Chicago answered. They scored the next 15 points of the quarter, making this game closer than it should have been.
Cheyenne Parker flipped momentum back to the Sparks when she fouled Candace Parker on a three point shot attempt. The Sky’s Parker was also hit with a technical foul, giving the home team a much needed boost.
Candace Parker’s only three of the game put this contest to bed. Her shot from behind the three point arc made it an 18 point advantage for the Sparks. That was good enough to cruise for the rest of the game.
“I think we’re all learning. A lot about getting paint points is about movement,” Parker said following the victory.
“You can’t get paint points if it’s loaded in the paint. It’s cutting, moving off the ball, being able to get out in transition and get those easy baskets.”
Rookie Maria Vadeeva was active for the game but did not play. She’s expected to practice with squad starting Monday and will slowly work her way into the rotation.
Next Sparks game
The Los Angeles Sparks home stand ends on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Dream. That game is set to tip off at Staples Center at 7:30 PM.