The Sparks Defeat the Indiana Fever 75-70.Sports — By Buddy Sampson on August 20, 2011 at 12:56 am
By Buddy Sampson
August 18, 2011- The LA Sparks are showing the WNBA and its fans that they still are an elite team. Although their below .500 record (10-14) doesn’t begin to illustrate their talent, they are still among the class of the league. They defeated the Indiana Fever in a thriller at The Staples Center 75-70.
With veterans Candace Parker, Delisha Milton Jones and Tina Thompson taking the court, The Sparks have a formidable core of talent. Thompson, who is the only WNBA player to have played in all 15 seasons since the league was created, has helped to provide a measure of veteran stability to the team. “It feels good,” said Tina Thompson when asked about playing all 15 seasons in the WNBA. “It’s a blessing to have this kind of longevity and be around and still be able to compete. From a league standpoint, it’s great. Hopefully, we’ll be able to vie for a championship and make a playoff push. It’s great to be in this position.”
Candace Parker, in her second game back after a severe injury, played 40 minutes and had 18 points and 6 rebounds. However, The Sparks started slow. The Fever jumped on them early, taking a 7-0 lead, before Candace broke the scoring drought. But The Sparks had an early deficit, falling behind 12-2. The Indiana Fever (18-8), showed why they are among the league’s best in the first quarter, with flawless execution and seemless ball movement. Tina Thompson helped keep The Sparks in the game in the first half, scoring 6 of her 7 points. But they had no answer for forward Tamika Catchings, who seemed to score at will.However, Sparks forward Ebony Hoffman, who had 21 points and 7 rebounds sparked (no pun intended) a furious comeback and The Sparks led at the half, 32-31.
In the second half, a sparring match ensued, with few separations in points for either team. But with great defense from The Sparks and timely baskets by Parker, the Sparks won the game, 75-70. “Once we played defense and got into it and we were able to knock down jump shots, that got us back,” said Parker. “She’s really the foundation of the team,” said LA Sparks coach Joe Bryant of Parker. “She makes good decisions. She’s special, she’s a good passer and she finds other people.” How important was defense in helping The Sparks defeat such an elite team? “We played great defense in the 2nd quarter,” said Bryant. “Offense comes and goes, but defense is everlasting. And what I think what happened was when we started missing shots, it seemed like our offense was dictating our defense when it should have been the other way around.”
But are The Sparks, who seemed geared up for a run at the playoffs ready? According to Parker, she’s ready to help The Sparks win down the stretch of the season. “I feel stronger than I was before,” said Candace Parker. Let’s hope that strength will carry them to the playoff hunt.