The Sparks won Sunday, but they also may have suffered a loss.
Candace Parker, the 2008 WNBA rookie of the year and most valuable player, was taken to a hospital after she aggravated a left shoulder injury while grabbing a defensive rebound with 2 minutes 55 seconds left in the second quarter. After suffering the injury, Parker went directly from the court to the locker room.
After the game, Sparks Coach Jennifer Gillom said she was not sure how badly Parker was injured or how long she will be out.
Later, Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman reported in The Times’ Fabulous Forum blog that Parker had “dislocated her shoulder — the same injury that has plagued her since college.”
Parker initially injured her shoulder in a loss Friday night to the Seattle Storm.
Without the face of the team Sunday, the Sparks won on heart.
The Sparks, who are in fifth place in the Western Conference, beat the sixth-place Minnesota Lynx, 88-84, at Staples Center in front of an announced crowd of 7,005.
Parker set the tone early, leading the Sparks (3-7) to a 42-39 halftime advantage with 12 points and seven rebounds in 17:05 of play. When she left the game, the team’s morale quickly followed suit.
“At the half we were down,” Marie Ferdinand-Harris said. “We were concerned with Candace.”
Ferdinand-Harris’ fear morphed into determination when the Sparks trailed, 82-79, with 2:46 left. Ferdinand-Harris, who has averaged 2.4 points a game while struggling with a nagging knee injury, went on to make two consecutive jump shots to give the Sparks an 83-82 lead with 1:05 left.
Then Seimone Augustus banked in a six-footer to give the Lynx (2-9) a one-point advantage with 37.2 seconds to go. After Gillom called a 20-second timeout, Ferdinand-Harris proceeded to convert four free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory for the Sparks. She finished with a season-high 19 points in 18:30 of play on six-for-seven shooting.
“I’m always prepared, waiting on that opportunity,” Ferdinand-Harris said. “And [today] was that moment that the Lord blessed me with.”
DeLisha Milton-Jones scored a game-high 22 points and said she hoped this win would be a turning point in the Sparks’ season.
“Our backs were against the wall and it felt like we were digging a grave,” Milton-Jones said. “Now we can see some light.”
Gillom, who was celebrating her 46th birthday, swelled with pride when talking about the team’s effort in spite of Parker’s injury. But her birthday celebration will have to wait.
“My heart is with Candace right now,” Gillom said.