Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Sparks shook off an uncharacteristic double-digit loss two nights earlier to rout the Chicago Sky on Sunday, 77-59.
Candace Parker, who came off of a season-low six-point scoring night the previous game, got her groove back against Chicago and scored a season-high 24 points. Nneka Ogwumike added 16 points for Los Angeles, with 12 in the first half alone. Chelsea Gray chipped in 15 points.
The Sparks were back in form after reinvesting in defense, and they held the Sky to 28.4 percent shooting. Coach Brian Agler said the team’s identity stems from defense.
“Our personality is based on how good of a defensive team we are, and I think got back to some of that today,” Agler said. “We placed a higher value on the defensive end and then we had several possessions offensively where we moved the ball and made the extra pass and made it difficult on their defense.”
Los Angeles also set the tone by scoring the first four points of the game. They went on an 8-0 run midway through the period, and finished with a 26-16 lead.
Cheyenne Parker, who was the lone Sky player in double figures, scored six of her 17 in the second quarter, as the visitors outscored the hosts, 15-12. A balanced scoring attack by Parker, Ogwumike and Gray paced the Sparks in the third period, and in the fourth, they held four Chicago starters scoreless.
Los Angeles is now 5-2 and is in sole possession of second in the league.
Ogwumike, although happy with the way her team played, says they are still working on improvements.
“It’s good to win and learn,” she said. “Everything today wasn’t perfect, but its good to be able to move forward with things we need to improve on, while staying at the top of the pack.”
Parker said that ball movement and active play is key for the Sparks this season.
“Our aggression and our movement, being able to get the rebound and get out in transition I think is the key for us,” Parker said. “It doesn’t matter how the ball is getting in the basket; it’s about finding the best shot.”
Ogwumike said good ball movement is just as important as defense.
“It’s more of an identity than a game plan,” Ogumike said. “We operate well when the ball is moving and we saw that a lot today.”
The Sky, now 3-5, have struggled of late largely due to injury, as starting center Stefanie Dolson has been out with a strained tendon.
Reserve guard Jamierra Faulkner said her team had a hard time finishing plays.
“We had a lot of great opportunities to hit shots, but shots didn’t fall for us today,” she said. “Most of the shots that we missed were open shots. We know we can attack and get to the basket; that’s just a main focus for us to draw fouls and get to the line.”
Chicago heads to Seattle to take on the Storm Tuesday, while Los Angeles hosts the Atlanta Dream.