Los Angeles, CA -- The Los Angeles Sparks played the Minnesota Lynx for the second time in six days on Tuesday. And not only did Candace Parker lead the way in her home debut, but she was also clearly the best player on the court.
A very excited Parker took to the floor Tuesday night, happy to be back, and feeling good about where the team is headed. She led her team to a convincing victory over the first place Lynx, filling up the stat sheet with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.
That night, the Sparks increased their win-streak to three games moving them into 4th place in the Western Conference. Sparks coach Brian Agler has his Sparks playing very well as of late, moving the ball, rebounding and defending, and a lot of that is due to having the versatility of the 6-foot-4 Parker.
Los Angeles held Minnesota to a season-low 61 points, and kept superstar Maya Moore scoreless in the second half. Moore finished the game with 13 points. Parker’s coaches and teammates are glad to have her back, and she has explicitly given the Sparks the necessary push to get over the hump as explained by Agler:
"Great player, very versatile. You know I’ve always known her from coaching against her then being on the same side as she is you get to see her on a daily basis. Not only is she very talented, but she is an extremely smart player too. Candace is extremely talented. She can distribute just as much as she can score.
"When the ball is in her hands, she sees the floor well. She’ll move the basketball along and move herself being aggressive that way. She can really help our offense run, and she did a really good job of that. She is doing a good job for us in that capacity."
Helping their offense run is indeed what Parker did, as 23 assists resulted in four Sparks players scoring in double figures.
"She is no silencer on the stat sheet, she provides a lot for us on offense, and it definitely contributes to our advantages of having a big lineup," said Nneka Ogwumike.
Despite the resounding victory over the WNBA’s best team, the Sparks still feel they have a lot of work to do.
"Our focus is to just get better every game, to build off of it, and this was a great building block we have to continue what we are doing and we have to get better," said Parker.
And the Sparks are doing just that, getting better every game. Her excellent all-around play has helped the team to come out of the All-Star break on a roll. Fast forward to last night’s contest.
Thursday night’s 27-point win over the Tulsa Shock now have the Sparks riding a four-game win streak since the return of Parker -- this is their longest win streak in two years. She finished the game with 10 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks all in just 29 minutes of play. Los Angeles is playing very well and having lots of fun.
Sparks guard Kristi Toliver is glad to have the all-world talent back in the lineup. "It’s important, everyone has their piece and their part, and she is (Parker) one of the pieces. When you have someone, that is as dynamic as she is, it's going to help your team so we are happy that everyone is here and able to contribute as best they can."
Not only did Los Angeles win Thursday night, but the way in which they won, with almost every player scoring, says a lot about how far this team has come. After coming off of a game where the Sparks held Minnesota to a season-low in points, they followed with giving up only 57 points to the third place Tulsa Shock.
If Los Angeles keeps up this impregnable play, especially defensively, a championship could potentially be in the new future -- and that’s no hyperbole.