Sparks end losing streak with record-setting effort in Chicago

Sparks end losing streak with record-setting effort in Chicago
Sparks teammates, including Nneka Ogwumike, right, listen to forward Candace Parker during a game against the Mystics earlier this week. (Chuck Myers / McClatchy-Tribune)

The Sparks played their best offensive game of the season despite a hobbled Candace Parker.

They scored season-high points and shot a season-best 56% from the field in a 102-88 victory over the Chicago Sky on Friday night.

And they did it without Parker at her best.

Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each and Parker added 17 for the Sparks (3-3), who ended a two-game losing streak while setting franchise records for field goals made (43) and assists (31).


"It helps when you shoot the basketball well," said Parker, the reigning MVP. "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 a loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. She entered the game four minutes into the first quarter.

Sparks Coach Carol Ross said Parker was hobbling during shoot-around.

"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), which hadn't played in a week and took its 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%. 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%.

The Sparks set a franchise record for points in a half in taking a 61-44 lead. The Sky was holding opponents to 72.3 points a game and 39% 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."