Through three games of the 2018 WNBA season, the Los Angeles Sparks were 2-1. They started the season off by beating the Minnesota Lynx in a thriller. Then, the Sparks continued their unbeaten streak by defeating the Indiana Fever quite easily. A tough loss to the Connecticut Sun rounded off the three game road trip. But all of that happened without their superstar, Candace Parker.
The Return of Candace Parker
Candace Parker made her season Debut in the Sparks’ home opener on Sunday against the Phoenix Mercury. It was not going to be an easy test, however, as the Mercury feature three of games biggest stars.
You could tell that she was a little bit rusty. She produced two turnovers off of bad passes, which was very unlike the two-time WNBA MVP.
Head coach Brian Agler spoke after the game about Parker’s game. “[Candice] made some really good plays. She obviously didn’t play her best because we’ve seen her best.”
Parker Makes Presence Felt
The 32-year-old veteran came off the bench at the 7:40 mark in the first quarter to a standing ovation. Parker made her presence felt immediately. She drove to the hoop in her first offensive possession, but had the layup blocked. Next, Parker missed a three point attempt.
The back spasms limited her practice time and needed more time to get her groove back. Parker finally found nylon when she sunk a layup with 2.6 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Parker began to get her rhythm back in the second frame. She was also a big reason why the Sparks started to see some separation. The Tennessee Volunteer drained a three pointer to give the Sparks a four point lead. Parker subsequently forced a turnover on one of those aforementioned Mercury greats, Diana Taurasi. That steal led to a Nneka Ogwumika layup to increase the Sparks’ lead to eight before halftime.
With the game winding down, Parker found a cutting Cappie Pondexter with an exquisite pass. That assist, Parker’s second of the afternoon, pretty much put the game out of reach.
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The layup by Pondexter made it 76-69 with a little more than three minutes remaining. Parker ended the game with ten points, three assists, and two rebounds in the 80-72 win over Phoenix.
Long Way to Go
That is what Candace Parker can do though for the Los Angeles Sparks. Her versatility as a 6’4″ forward brings something that a lot of WNBA teams do not have. Parker’s vision is one of the best in the league. She can shoot a three pointer and she can bully her way down low.
Parker, afterwards, said that she knew she had a ways to go to get back to her best. She felt a little winded and joked that she’ll work on getting her fitness up to game standards. Once she is all the way back, the WNBA should take notice. Her, along with Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray, and Odyssey Sims are a force to be reckoned with.