The Los Angeles Sparks finished their five-game home stand with their fourth win during that stretch, beating the Atlanta Dream 72-64.
The Sparks were already one of the best teams in the WNBA without Parker. But with her, they have been even better. That was never more evident than in this victory on Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
What can’t Candace Parker Do?
Parker once again led her team to victory. She led all scorers with 18 points, making 7-11 attempts from the field. The veteran also found nylon on both of her shots from behind the arc. Parker added seven rebounds, two assists and one steal to cap off another stellar performance.
Chelsea Gray continued to do what she does best, make her teammates better. Gray tallied another 7 assists against the Dream. With every passing game, Gray is proving that she is indeed one of the best point guards in the league.
Los Angeles Sparks Pull Ahead in the Second
Nothing could really separate the Dream and the Sparks early in this contest. Parker nailed three of her four shot attempts, providing a much needed spark to the home teams offense. Without the services of Parker, the Sparks would have shot 46% from the field. That just tells you how important she is right there.
Meanwhile, Jessica Breeland, the eight-year WNBA veteran, proved to be a thorn in Sparks’ sides. The 6′ 3″ forward’s mid-range jumper was lethal. It kept her team within two points at the end of the first. Breeland sank four shots (the most of any player during the first 10 minutes) from just inside the arc.
The second quarter is when these two teams finally began to drift apart from one another. This is usually the time when the Sparks defense steps up their game. You can see the intensity get higher when it commenced. Take a look at the stats and you will notice that the Dream only shot 4-16 as a team. That kind of shooting performance, against any team, will not get the job done.
In addition to shooting 40% as team, the Los Angeles Sparks took an 11 point lead into the break.
Essence Carson and Candace Parker both made three pointers after halftime to keep the advantage. Because if it weren’t for those two big shots, Atlanta would have been right back in the contest.
“I thought our defensive efforts were really good in the first 3 periods, but some of their subs really gave them a boost,” coach Brian Agler said following the win.
The Dream continued to claw their way back into the contest by scoring tons with the clock stopped. Six of Atlanta’s 17 points that quarter came from the charity strike. That meant that they were trying to get to the rack as often as they could. The visiting team got as close as six points, but no closer, after Nneka Ogwumike drained an enormous three point shot to put the Sparks ahead for good.
The Los Angels Sparks hit the road for their next two games in WNBA play. They will first take on the Washington Mystics on Friday evening at 4:00 PM. Then, the Sparks will play the Chicago Sky for the second time this season on Sunday afternoon.