Los Angeles, CA -- Nneka Ogwumike tied a career-high with 26 points while helping the Los Angeles Sparks dismantle the Tulsa Shock 84-57 on Thursday at the Staples Center.
Ogwumike enjoyed a dominant performance, in which she shot a cool 11-of-16 from the field and added five rebounds. Sparks forward Candace Parker continued to play solid basketball since joining the team, as she recorded a double-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.
Los Angeles (7-14) improved to 4-1 since Parker returned to the team. Now on a four-game win streak, the Sparks are playing their best basketball in a long time.
"I think it's just kind of to come in and lock down defensively, I think we're playing some of the best team defense in a long time, and that's allowing us to come out in transition, and that's key for us," Parker said of her team's sudden resurgence. "If we can do that, we're capable of playing in the half court and capable of limiting teams and we'll be a force to reckon with."
The Sparks used stingy defense and a high-octane offense to completely dominate the Shock in the first half, taking a 41-26 lead into the break. The 26 points were a season-low in any half for Tulsa. An 18-2 run in favor of the Sparks helped blow the game wide open in the second quarter.
Los Angeles outrebounded Tulsa 24-17 and turned that into an 8-0 advantage in fast break points. It seemed that every time Tulsa missed a shot, the Sparks turned an outlet pass into an easy, fast break or a crisp set up to their half-court offense.
Ogwumike led the way in the first half with 14 points and three rebounds. While Parker found a number of ways to contribute, scoring four points and adding seven rebounds and three assists.
Overall, Tulsa shot a mediocre 22.6 percent from the field in the first half. Plenette Pierson led the way for the lowly Shock early on, scoring a team-leading six points and grabbing three rebounds before halftime.
"Los Angeles just jumped on us in the beginning. [Los Angeles Sparks] was great on the fast break, getting second-chance points, and grabbing offensive rebounds," Tulsa head coach Fred Williams said. "They just buried us in a hole and we couldn't overcome it."
A 10-0 run in the third quarter gave the Sparks a 25-point lead at the three-minute mark - the 25-point difference represented the team's largest lead of the season.
Forward Karima Christmas added eight points and three rebounds for the Shock, but shot just 1-of-6 from the field.
Overall, Los Angeles outperformed Tulsa at almost every facet of the game. The Sparks shot 54 percent from the field compared to 26.2 percent for the Shock. Los Angeles also took big advantages in fast break points (13-0) and points in the paint (50-26).
With the loss, Tulsa dropped to 10-12 on the season and is now owners of an eight-game losing streak. After starting the season 8-3, the Shock have won just 2 of their past 10 games.
"We're still hungry. We're still fighting for victories," Williams said. "When we go on a losing streak like this, it's all about sticking together and fighting hard. Tonight just wasn't out night."