Last night the LA Sparks rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Tulsa Shock on their home court, 79-74. Kristi Toliver lead LA with 25 points – the most critical thee of which came with 19.7 seconds left, to put her team out of reach. Delisha Milton-Jones added 18 points for the Sparks.
The last three years have not been kind to the Sparks in the injury/recovery department. In 2009, Candace Parker came back halfway through the season after having a baby. Last year she was lost for the season in June after dislocating her shoulder again, and Betty Lennox was out for the season as well. This season, Parker tore the lateral meniscus on her knee and is out for six weeks.
Enter Milton-Jones. The veteran stepped up last year and was averaging 15.4 points per game by season’s end – 14th in the league, behind teammate Tina Thompson. This year Milton-Jones is back at it, leading the Sparks in scoring right now at 13.4 a game.
For whatever reason, Milton-Jones seems to be one of those “unsung hero” players. Maybe it’s because she’s usually on teams with high-profile personalities like Parker and Thompson. But statistics don’t lie, and the truth is that the 36-year-old has been the saving grace for the Sparks for two years now. If it weren’t for her – especially in the home stretch of last season – LA would have never made the playoffs. Hell, they would have been at the bottom of the Western Conference.
There’s this saying, “whether or not you think you can, you’re right.” That seems to embody the spirit of this ageless wonder, who recently told me, “you haven’t seen the best of me yet.”
Well, hot damn.