Sparks lose to Sun, 78-75, after losing star
The remnants of the Lakers’ championship were sprinkled across the Staples Center floor, but the leftover purple and gold confetti seemed out of place juxtaposed against the Sparks’ somber mood as they took the court against the Connecticut Sun.
After all, the same day that the Lakers won their 16th NBA title, the Sparks learned they will play for the rest of the season without Candace Parker, who will undergo surgery for a dislocated left shoulder.
After hearing the news, her teammates took it hard, and their disappointment was exacerbated by the 78-75 loss to the Sun in front of an announced crowd of 8,852.
“I thought we started the game with great intensity,” Sparks Coach Jennifer Gillom said. “We’ve got to be able to play for four quarters.”
The Sparks led by as many as 16 points in the third, but the Sun came back behind the offensive surge of Tina Charles (26 points, 19 rebounds) to take a 63-62 lead heading into the fourth.
Trailing 76-73 with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game, Marie Ferdinand-Harris made a 20-foot fadeaway jumper to bring the Sparks (3-8) to within one. But Tan White was fouled on the other end and converted both of her free throws to cement the win for the Sun (7-3).
“We have to play on,” said Tina Thompson, who scored her 6,000th career point in the first quarter and finished with a team-high 24 points.
Parker, who first dislocated the shoulder in college, reinjured it last Friday against the Seattle Storm and then aggravated it on Sunday while grabbing a defensive rebound against the Minnesota Lynx. The 24-year-old, who averaged 20.6 points and 10.1 rebounds a game, will have surgery in the next few weeks and will be sidelined for four to six months.
The Sparks, unlike the Lakers, will have to wait to have their victory celebration in the face of adversity.
“Basketball is just a job,” L.A.'s Noelle Quinn said. “Health is a key issue.”