Los Angeles, CA -- Los Angeles delivered yet another sparkling performance with a victory over the Chicago Sky, extending their undefeated record to 10-0 and making franchise history.
Kristi Toliver effortlessly sunk eight consecutive points out of the gate. The Sparks defense held the Sky scoreless for the first three minutes, forcing the team to call a timeout.
Chicago seemed to somewhat gather itself during the timeout, capitalizing on the following five possessions. This was not enough to deter the sparkling Los Angeles offense, which ended the first quarter shooting 73 percent from the field and 66 percent from beyond the arc to take the lead, 27-18.
The Sky amplified its defense in the second quarter, outrebounding the Sparks, 18-17. Los Angeles had a brief moment of struggle, but regained its composure and returned to their selfless style of play with 13 assists, while Chicago only had five. Both the Sparks and Sky scored 19 points apiece, and the Sparks held on to a 46-37 lead.
Nneka Ogwumike finished the first half with 12 points, followed by Toliver's 10 and Essence Carson's eight. For Chicago, Cappie Pondexter and Courtney Vandersloot were tied at seven points apiece.
Chicago continued to out-rebound Los Angeles throughout the third quarter, just as the Sparks led Chicago in the assist category. The latter proving to be more significant, as the Sparks held the lead, 72-64.
"We played a very good team. Chicago is very difficult to defend," Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler said. "We take a lot of pride in our defense, but we had struggles tonight defensively.
"They had some good individual efforts, they sort of spaced us in different ways, and made it tough on us. But the win is a tribute to some of our players who stepped up and made big plays and hit big shots when they had to."
The Sparks refused to fizzle in the fourth quarter, answering what felt like every single Sky run with a strong defensive play to combat.
"The Sparks are a team that can immediately capitalize on your mistakes, and that's exactly what they did," Sky Head Coach Pokey Chatman said. "We're still a good basketball team, and I believe in our team, but we need to get stops and start stringing them together."
After a lackluster first half performance with a meager two points, Candace Parker reminded us why she is a reigning MVP (2008, 2013). She finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists and brought an energizing, leadership presence to the court.
"I just hate being hesitant. Whenever I play hesitant, that's just not myself," Parker said. "Basically I just came in here over half time and told myself to take the shots and be aggressive because my team needs me to be aggressive, and that's what happened. Results don't matter; you still have to play consistently."
Although not another "perfect" game, Ogwumike delivered another impressive double-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. Following Ogwumike and Parker, Toliver finished with 16 points and 3 steals.
"Nneka is playing great right now. Her game is developing, and she's still coming into the prime of her career," Agler said. "She's just as good of a person as she is a player. She's one of our leaders, and we play off of her.
"What we don't also see in the statistics is the fact that not only does she do things great with the numbers of basketball, but she also usually defends one of the best players on the other team, too. She's one of the better defenders in our league."
Pondexter led the Sky with 20 points, followed by Elena Delle Donne's 15 points.
With this win, the Sparks set a franchise record with the best start to a season at 10-0.
"10-0 means a lot to us," Parker said. "We've obviously been on the other side of things; on the struggle bus at 2-8 and 2-9 and all that, but it's nice to be on this side and to be able to learn while we are winning. That's the main thing."
Ogwumike echoed Parker's statement of learning from each victory. "Each game is a grind, but we appreciate that," she said. "We get better with each game and that's what we focus on — improving while winning."
"This is a special group of people. There's a core of them that has played together for quite a while, and I'm sure it means a lot to them. I hope they enjoy it," Agler said. "But we didn't talk about it before or after; it's just getting ready for the next game.
"We're happy with our start. Everything we want to do in the regular season is to just position ourselves for playoffs and that's what we're trying to do."
The Sparks return to Staples Center on Friday to take on the Phoenix Mercury in hopes of extending their record to 11-0 to tie the Minnesota Lynx.