Parker, Gray Lead Sparks Past Sky in Ogwumike’s Return

The Los Angeles Sparks pulled off an 86-80 victory against the Chicago Sky bringing their record to 14- 5. LA’s defense stepped up late in the game, holding Chicago to only 10 points in the fourth quarter. Candace Parker posted a dominant stat line, finishing with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks. She recorded a double-double in the first half alone and leads the WNBA with nine double-double’s on the season. Chelsea “POINT GAWD” Gray added 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds and shot 75% from three and 66.7% from the field.

Chicago had a strong showing in the first quarter, scoring 30 points on 50% shooting led by Allie Quigley who scored 13 points in the opening period. Cheyenne Parker was a force in the first half as well for the Sky as she scored 21 points and snagged 10 rebounds before halftime. The Sparks defense would put a halt to Parker’s efforts in the second half, holding her to only three points and zero rebounds after intermission.

The Sky led by as many as 13 at 39-26, but the Sparks would close the half on a 21-9 run to trail just 48- 47 heading into the half.

LA’s offense was sparked by the stellar play of Parker and Gray. Parker continued to make her case for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year and Gray continued her strong late season surge making a call for All-WNBA. The tandem stepped up after Sydney Wiese suffered a foot injury in the first quarter and Brittney Sykes took a knee to the stomach in the fourth quarter. Neither would return. LA did get 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike back after she missed the previous three games with back soreness.

“I was the one who started calling [Chelsea] the “Point Gawd” back in 2017, after we went to the finals and she was – just was hitting game winners and really stepped into that role…” said Candace Parker. “It’s cool as a vet to see somebody that is really special, as a player at her size, to be able to do the things that she does… it’s been fun to grow with her, she is one of my best friends. On the court, that energy and that friendship carries over.”

As a team, LA was effective from the field shooting 50.7% and 57.1% from the three-point line. Additionally, they were very aggressive in forcing the Sky to foul 19 times along with forcing 15 turnovers.

LA reached multiple milestones tonight with Nneka Ogwumike scoring nine points, moving her past Monique Currie and Plenette Pierson to 31st all-time in scoring as well as securing her 2000th career rebound, making her tied with Tamika Catchings for the fourth-fastest to that number at 264 games. Candace Parker also reached her season-high in rebounding with 15.

“There are people that don’t like sleeping in the dark,” said Head Coach Derek Fisher after the game. “Nneka is the night light that gives that feeling of comfort and security. You just feel better when she’s on the court and around.”

The Sparks play on Tuesday, September 8 against the New York Liberty at 4 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcasted live on CBS Sports Network.

Los Angeles Highlights:

-Four Sparks players scored in double digits: Parker (24), Gray (20), Sykes (11), and Williams (10).

-Candace Parker posted a dominant stat line, finishing with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks. She recorded a double-double in the first half alone.

-The Sparks shot an efficient 50.7% from the field and 57.1% from beyond the arc. Chelsea Gray largely contributed to both of these percentages, shooting 75% from three and 66.7% from the field.

-Nneka Ogwumike grabbed her 2,000th career rebound tonight, tying Tamika Catchings for 4th- fastest there (264 games).