Los Angeles – It isn’t so often that a game can be decided in the first quarter, but that is exactly what happened Sunday, as the Sparks defeated the Dallas Wings in what became a 21-point rout, 95-74.
Coming off of a triple-double performance Friday, Candace Parker once again led the way for the Sparks with 23 points and 10 rebounds. She scored 12 in the first quarter alone, in just under eight minutes on the floor. Nneka Ogwumike scored 22 points, Chelsea Gray 16 and Alana Beard, 13.
Los Angeles coach Brian Agler said he is pleased with Parker’s output lately.
“Candace is playing very well right now at both ends,” Agler said. “I like how she is distributing the ball, taking things to the rim and finishing. We need for her to continue this way.”
The Sparks shot 70 percent in the first period while limiting Dallas to just 10 made field goals in the half, and they led 49-42 at the break.
Wings rookie Allisha Gray scored on a driving layup to begin the third quarter, but that five point deficit proved to be the closest the visitors got, as Los Angeles ended on a 12-2 run and dominated the fourth period.
Aerial Powers led Dallas with 23 points, while Gray added 16 and Skylar Diggins-Smith, 14.
Despite the lopsided win, Parker said the physicality of Sunday’s game will help her team as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.
“For us to be able to guard a tough team like Dallas is good for us,” Parker said. “They put their heads down, get to the rack and they lead the league in getting to the free throw line. We had our work cut out for us tonight.”
“It does prep you for the playoffs,” he said of the game. “They [the playoffs] are going to be physical and more half court.”
The win puts the Sparks at 17-6 and drops the Wings, who are fighting for a playoff spot, to 11-14.
Powers said Dallas needs to improve in several areas to make an end-of-the-season push.
“They’re a pretty hard team,” Powers said of Los Angeles. “You know they win championships. We have to do better defensively. Some switch in calls, they had too many points in the paint for us to even compete towards the end.”
The Sparks’ current homestand will conclude Friday, with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff against the New York Liberty. They then hit the road for five games, including a rematch with the Wings.