LA Sparks Defeat Tulsa Shock, 95-79
Candace Parker hit 33 points and a career-high nine blocks to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a 95-79 win Wednesday over the Tulsa Shock.
Parker finished just one block shy of the franchise record of 10 blocks, set by Lisa Leslie in a 2004 game against the Detroit Shock. The forward helped her team regain momentum after Tulsa jumped out to an early 10-4 first-quarter lead.
In the opening quarter, not much defense would be played. Through one period, each team scored 16 points in the paint.
Parker’s defensive edge kicked in when she took over the paint and started blocking shots, knocking down six of her nine in the first half.
“Candace has a great gift,” said Sparks head coach Carol Ross. “She is the leading shot blocker in the league. Tonight was a good example of why she is able to affect a lot of shots. She’s quick, she’s good, and has pure instincts.”
Tulsa guard Temeka Johnson scored 11 points in the first quarter but went scoreless for the remainder of the game. Despite her early ability to speed through and find the basket, Johnson couldn’t navigate her way through LA’s aggressive defense after the first period.
“We battled and held our own,” said Parker. “We know going into halftime that they had a lot of offensive rebounds, and in the second half we limited that.”
Wednesday night’s game was the first Tulsa played without Jennifer Lacy, the team’s third-leading scorer. Lacy tore her meniscus Sunday and could be out four to six weeks. Lacy’s injury is the latest to plague Tulsa who also has Scholanda Dorell out with a torn meniscus and Chante Black sidelined with a jaw injury.
Earlier this week the Shock signed Courtney Paris, adding to yet another roster switch-up. Paris posted 11 points and eight rebounds in her first game with the team.
“We have a couple players hurt and a couple new players, so it’s hard,” said Shock forward Glory Johnson. “We’re trying to figure out each other and make up for players that aren’t there.”
Johnson led her team with a season-high 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome LA’s fiery and experienced offense. The Sparks outshot the Shock 54.8 percent to 37.2 percent. In the first half alone, LA shot 69 percent from the field before Tulsa held LA to 42.4 percent-shooting in the second half.
“We were a little soft defensively in the first half,” said Tulsa head coach Gary Kloppenburg. “In the second half, we fought them a little more, pressured them.”
Despite LA maintaining a big lead over Tulsa for most of the game, the Shock fought back late in the fourth to narrow the gap. Glory Johnson made two free throws and scored a lay-up, with Karima Christmas’ basket limiting the deficit to nine points with 4:32 remaining.
Although the Shock had fewer turnovers than the Sparks overall, LA was able to convert them into more points. The Sparks translated Tulsa’s 11 turnovers into 20 points, while Tulsa could only convert 15 LA turnovers into 18 points.
Toliver posted 22 points and led her team with six assists. Fourteen of her 22 points came from the free-throw line, where she didn’t miss a single attempt. She went 7-7 from the line in the third quarter, allowing her to score half of the team’s third quarter points (nine of 18).
Parker finished the game with 33 points on 14 of 21 field goals.
The Sparks remain undefeated at home, 6-0, the franchise’s best home start since 2006 when it began 7-0.
Reach Staff Writer Amanda Martinez here