Sparks win on Candace Parker’s late jumper
The Sparks finally got their revenge.
After being eliminated by the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference finals last season and suffering two nail-biting one point losses to the Mercury over the past four weeks, the Sparks took back some of their pride.
The Sparks (2-6), who entered Tuesday’s game with the worst record in the WNBA, won in a dramatic fashion by defeating the defending league champion, 92-91, in front of an announced crowd of 7,993 at the Staples Center.
Trailing 91-90 with 3.4 seconds remaining in the game, Candace Parker nailed an inside jumper to give the Mercury a taste of their own Hollywood medicine.
“This is a win above all wins,” said Sparks first year Coach Jennifer Gillom. “I feel like I won a championship.”
Things were beginning to look grim for the Sparks when the Mercury (3-5) led, 89-84, with 56.6 seconds remaining in the fourth, but Kristi Toliver converted a three-point play after being fouled on a turnaround jumper to bring the Sparks to within two.
Noelle Quinn then made a huge three-pointer with 18.3 seconds on the clock to give the Sparks a 90-89 lead. But the Sparks then had a complete mental lapse on the other end, allowing Temeka Johnson to shoot a wide-open layup to give the Mercury a one point advantage with 8.8 seconds left.
It was beginning to feel like déjà vu. After all, the Sparks lost to Phoenix, 78-77, on May 15 and, 90-89, on June 4. But Parker, who finished with a team-high 22 points, caught the ball with the seconds ticking off the clock and sank a beautiful shot.
“This time we were on the winning side of that one point win,” said Quinn, sighing a breath of relief.
It was a collective sigh shared by a team who was tired of losing.
“Hopefully we use this momentum,” Quinn said “and carry it into our next games.”
The Sparks announced Tuesday that team president Kristin Bernert has resigned. In an interview with the Times, Bernert said she simply lost her passion for the job.
“If I’m halfway in,” Bernert said “I can’t do the best job. “The Sparks deserve better and I deserve better, quite frankly.”