Saturday, June 7, 2014
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — The Los Angeles Sparks played their best offensive game of the season despite a hobbled Candace Parker.
The Sparks scored season-high points and shot a season-best 56 percent from the field in a 102-88 victory over the Chicago Sky on Friday night.
And they did it with an injured Parker, the reigning WNBA MVP who was averaging 22.2 points per game.
Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each and Parker added 17 for the Sparks (3-3), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Los Angeles set franchise records for field goals made (43) and assists (31).
"It helps when you shoot the basketball well," Parker said. "I think we can continue this. This is just what we're capable of. Let's not make this the outlier game. Let's make this what we do and be consistent."
Parker did not start because of an ankle injury suffered in the team's loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. She entered the game 4 minutes into the first quarter.
Sparks coach Carol Ross said Parker was hobbling during shootaround.
"In this particular case, we got better when we subbed," Ross said. "I was just trying to protect her early."
Elena Delle Donne, the reigning WNBA rookie of the year, had a career-high 33 points and 14 rebounds for the Sky (5-2), who hadn't played in a week and took their biggest loss of the season.
"You would think defensively you're rested a little bit," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "But I like to give credit to the opponent when they take advantage of a situation."
Tamera Young added 15 points and Jamierra Faulkner had 13 for Chicago.
The Sky shot 45 percent. Los Angeles had 10 turnovers, while Chicago committed 17.
"We had been really bad lately," Ross said. "We just kind of amped it up a little bit, in practice get a little more focused. We gave great effort. When you play really, really hard, things come really easier for you. We shared the ball. We shot the ball well. We got easier shots."
Los Angeles opened with a 10-3 run and led 32-21 at the end of the first quarter after shooting 64 percent.
The Sparks set a franchise record for points in a half in taking a 61-44 lead. The Sky were holding opponents to 72.3 points per game and 39 percent shooting.
The Sparks returned to .500 by beating the East's top team. Next, Los Angeles will face the West's top team, Minnesota, on Sunday.
"We looked at our schedule after we lost to Atlanta and thought, 'This could be really bad,'" Parker said. "If we didn't stop the bleeding, it could get out of control. I was proud of our group and how we approached this."