(Los Angeles, CA-Staples Center)—Game Preview: It was provident that the Sparks (15-11) play the Lynx (15-10) after the All-Star game. The two perennial powerhouses have been plagued by their own issues this season as they’ve struggled to re-assert themselves in the upper tier of the League. The key factor in this match-up is the return of Alana Beard and Nneka Ogwumike who are needed to bolster the Sparks confidence in this crucial encounter as well as the upcoming playoffs. The Lynx came prepared with their All-WNBA vets, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen. Game Theme: “Breast Health Awareness Night.”
Game Recap: 1st Qtr—Once again Candace Parker dominated quickly and showed the way as she propelled her team to a healthy (20-8) 1st period lead. She was credited with 11 pts/4 rebs/1 assist and 1 blocked shot for her eye-popping efforts. With this remarkable 1st quarter performance, she would set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Photos by Erik Sarni/East L.A. Sports Scene
Photos by Anthony Ramirez/East L.A. Sports Scene
2nd qtr—Both sides traded baskets early. Then with 6:41 let in the half, CP3 scored on a lay-up and was fouled. She completed the 3 point play for a (25-12) advantage. The lead was 10, (29-19), on a beautiful give-and-go from Chelsea Gray to Parker. That was immediately followed by another great assist from Gray this time she fed Nneka Ogwumike for a bucket, upping the score to (31-19). Time-out taken by the Lynx with 3:12 left. Essence Carson hit a 3 pointer, that was quicky followed by a Gray steal. She went 3/4 court dribbling through traffic for a lay-up. (36-21) Sparks. Gray kept her hot hand as she then hit an 8′ jumper from the right baseline, (40-27). With the final possession of the half, Sylvia Fowles scored on lay-up with :04.2 left.
HALFTIME SCORE: Sparks 40, Lynx 29. The Celebrity Cam found Dwyane Wade & Gabrielle Union – aka “The Power Couple” sitting courtside.
3rd qtr—CP3 opened up with a nice 3-pointer, (43-31) for her 18th point. The war on the floor got intense when Odyssey Sims stood “face-to-face” and exchanged some words with Lindsay Whalen. A technical foul was called on the Lynx and a made free throw kept the lead at 10, (47-37), Sparks. Sims then scored a lay-up for a (49-37) lead. Time-out Lynx. Maya Moore who was kept quiet on offense, then hit a nice straight-away jumper after a flurry of offensive rebounds, making it (49-41). Essence Carson found a good spot on the floor and answered with her 3-pointer, (52-41), 3:09 left in period. Chelsea Gray nailed a 3-pointer, (57-43) with 1:04 left. Gray,who was extremely active on both sides of the ball then stole a ball off a dribble and drove uncontested for a lay-up, (59-43). The Lynx hit a 3-pointer, closing the gap to 13 at (59-46) to end the quarter. Of significance…the number of 3 point shots made in the period by the Sparks.
4th qtr—Nneka Ogwumike started with a basket, 61-46, the lead now growing to 15. CP3 picked up a loose ball on defense and drove the length of the court for a bucket and 1, (64-48), Making it a 16 point lead Jantel Lavender got credit for basket after an assist from CP3, (66-50) with 5:29 left in game. Gray fired up the crowd with a great looking and athletic step-back jumper from 12′ for 17 point lead, (68-51). Then, if that wasn’t enough, she came back with her 3rd 3-pointer of the game, (71-53) with 3 minutes left. After a time-out, Riquana Williams buried a 3-pointer, (74-53), for a 21 point lead with 2:26 left. Williams then hit a “back-to-back” 3 pointer for a (77-53) score. It was all academic at this point as the lead was too insurmountable for the Lynx. In looking for other signs of the Sparks resurgent play in this ESPN nationally televised game, one might also conjecture that perhaps it was the new look uniforms, black with pink trim, white numbers, and a few pink head-scarves in displayed in commemoration of the Breast Cancer Awareness theme. Couple this with the game-time return of Beard and Ogwumike, that made it a statement win for the Sparks. Head Coach Brian Agler will take as many of these wins as he can. And last, but not least, from the Sparks fanbase perspective, the 5 game home losing steak is over.
FINAL SCORE: Sparks 79– Lynx 57. Game Attendance: 9,542. The Sparks record with this win moved to (16-11). The Lynx fell to (15-11.
Sparks Game Stat-Line: Candace Parker/23pts/10 rebs/ (9th Double-Double)/4 assts/2 stls/3 blks; Chelsea Gray/18 pts/5 rebs/9 assts/2 stls; Nneka Ogwumike/15 pts/6 rebs/1 asst/; Essence Carson/6 pts/2-3 3 ptrs/1 asst; Alana Beard/5 pts/2 rebs/1 asst/1 stl.
Next Up: Phoenix Mercury, led by Diana Taurasi, (16-12) Sunday, August 5th at 4 pm., on SpectrumSportsNet and NBATV.
Photo Credits: For East L.A. Sports Scene Productions/Gallery #1-Erik Sarni; Gallery #2-Anthony Ramirez.