Los Angeles was excited to have Candace Parker back on the floor for the first time this season. However, the Washington Mystics put a damper on the celebrations as they routed the Sparks on Tuesday evening.
Despite 9,537 fans cheering on Parker’s return at the Staples Center, the Mystics cruised to an 81-52 win that was reminiscent of their blowout win in the second round of the 2018 postseason.
“I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t disappointed,” Parker said about the game’s outcome.
“Obviously we wanted to win tonight.”
Parker’s return to the floor was promising prior to game time but it ended up going awry early. It was not a pretty first quarter for the Sparks, which turned out to be the beginning of the end.
Sparks start slow
CP3’s return could not have gotten off to a worse start as she was 0-4 from the field and had two turnovers. Parker’s first points of the game did not come until three minutes into the second quarter. In under 25 minutes of play, Parker finished with a measly three points on 1-9 shooting, five rebounds, and three assists.
Parker was rusty on the offensive side of the ball while failing to maintain possession for her team, committing six turnovers.
Having Parker back, in the long run, is good for the Sparks. But there were obviously going to be adjustments made with the big three in the frontcourt consisting of Parker and Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike.
“For everybody, trying to figure out where we fit than trying to explore mismatches and go from there,” Parker said.
The Sparks consistently start out slow in games before finding some sort of energy. On Tuesday, though, the Sparks just were not able to create any momentum.
The Mystics got out to an early 20-3 lead to start the game. They were able to move the ball well and managed to get good looks to fall. The visiting side shot a whopping 50 percent from the field during the first 10 minutes of the game.
Washington functioned as a unit because they were able to be efficient with scoring, sharing the ball, and capitalizing off 27 turnovers from the Sparks. The Mystics were able to convert on 38 points from the Sparks’ 27 turnovers in the game.
Los Angeles looked lost on both ends of the floor throughout the night. In the first half alone, the Sparks were 23.5 percent from the field on 8-34 shots. The Sparks were able to pick up their scoring a bit in the third quarter as they shot 33.3 percent from the field.
Sparks show signs of life in second half
There was a hint of life after halftime for the Sparks. They held the Mystics to 14 points, despite scoring only 11 points themselves.
“I think we were able to string together stops,” Nneka Ogwumike said about the defense for the Sparks in the third quarter. “I think that our help side was a lot better.”
The Sparks wanted to win the third quarter with hopes of reclaiming the lead. The defense was a major talking point at half time for the Sparks in planning out how to combat Washington.
Regardless of the score and ultimate result, there was a certain level of competition and fight that translated in those moments which saw them slow the Mystics down.
“There was a second unit in the second quarter that started to play that way,” Sparks head coach Derek Fisher said.
“Even though we weren’t necessarily closing the lead, it just felt that they were trying harder.”
The play of the second unit carried over into the third as the first unit saw how scrappy they played and wanted to do better in the quarter.
Both the Mystics and Sparks shot 33.3 percent from the field in the third quarter. They were even in attempts during the game as a whole but many of the shots for the Sparks just would not fall.
The game finished with the Mystics shooting 42.4 percent from the field while the Sparks shot 28.8 percent.
Nneka Ogwumike and Sydney Wiese finished the game with a team-high 12 points. Chelsea Gray had eight points, seven rebounds, and two assists.
Los Angeles now has a 4-4 record on the season as they dropped their second straight game at home.
The Sparks will go on a two-game road trip starting in Seattle against the Storm on Friday at 7 p.m.