Sparks emerge from All-Star break nearly at full strength

Sparks' Candace Parker will make her return from an ankle injury against the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday.
The Sparks’ Candace Parker will make her return from an ankle injury against the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Nineteen games into the WNBA season, the Sparks are finally nearing full strength.

Coming off a five-day All-Star break, the Sparks began practice Wednesday with all 12 members of the team dressed and ready to contribute.

Coach Derek Fisher added a full court five-on-five scrimmage to end practice, something the Sparks haven’t been able to do in almost a month because of injuries.

“We’re definitely much closer and I’m afraid to say too much because it’s so exciting. Just seeing everybody in the same room, I don’t know if that’s happened since the end of May possibly,” Fisher said. “Right now as long as there are no setbacks we should have [10] out of our 12 back [Thursday].”

The Sparks host the Las Vegas Aces at Staples Center on Thursday.

Before the break, the suspension of Riquna Williams and injuries to Alexis Jones, Candace Parker, Alana Beard and Maria Vadeeva left the Sparks with seven available players.

They signed Karlie Samuelson to a seven-day contract to bolster the bench and went 2-1 in three games.


Williams is ineligible to play until Aug. 22 and Beard’s status is day-to-day because of a hamstring injury she suffered against the Indiana Fever on July 12.

Parker will make her second return from an injury this season. She missed the first six games with a hamstring injury. She suffered an ankle injury on July 9 against the Dallas Wings.

The Sparks are fifth in the league with an 11-8 record, having played 12 road games.

“I think we did what we had to do. We fought through a lot of adversity to start the season,” Parker said. “We had a lot of people in and out with injuries, things like that, so we got the wins that we needed to. I think we played the most amount of away games, so doing that on the road says a lot about who the team is.”