Sparks Lose Heartbreaker to Seattle at Buzzer

The Los Angeles Sparks couldn’t edge out the Seattle Storm despite MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Candace Parker’s 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assist effort, falling to the Storm on a buzzer-beat from Jewell Loyd with 0.8 seconds left on the clock.

Both teams were quick to get on the board, Seattle with a Natasha Howard layup and Los Angeles with a Candace Parker three-pointer off a Brittney Sykes assist. The Sparks took the early lead and capitalized off of four Seattle turnovers. Parker dropped 12 points, shooting 4-for-6 in the first quarter. Kristine Anigwe also got her first career start.

By the second quarter, Seattle found their rhythm, but not before Sixth Woman of the Year contender Riquna Williams got hot off the bench. Williams quickly scored eight points, shooting 4-for-6, helping LA maintain its lead. Seattle’s Jewell Loyd helped the Storm work their way back, scoring 11 points, six from the free-throw line. The Sparks led by as many as 13 at 42-29, but Loyd helped the Storm pull to within four at the half LA led 49-45.

The third quarter was defined by ten lead changes and five ties. Parker added another six points and Chelsea Gray hit double-digit scoring with some clutch fadeaway field goals. Seattle fought hard to keep a lead with scoring from Loyd, Sue Bird, and Natasha Howard. At the end of the chaotic third quarter, it was all tied up 69-69.

Seattle managed an early lead in the fourth, led by Breanna Stewart, but two furious back-to-back points by the only Sparks rookie Te’a Cooper evened the score.

It came down to the last minute of play as a foul by Howard let Sykes take two free-throws, giving LA a one-point lead with 46 seconds remaining. With 20 seconds left, Howard fouled out of the game, putting Gray on the free-throw line to shoot two. Gray made one, giving LA a 87-85 lead.

Stewart responded by driving to the basket past Parker and tied it up at 87-87. With just 0.8 seconds remaining, the Storm fouled Williams who was attempting a potential game-winning layup. She made both, giving LA the 89-87 lead with 0.8 still left and a timeout away from the upset.

In the final play of the game, Bird inbounded straight to Loyd, who put up a buzzer-beating three-pointer. A review of the shot confirmed the points, and Seattle took the game 90-89.

“We don’t have enough time, games to dwell,” said Parker. “We’re still fighting for a good seed, a top- two seed. I think everybody is trying to play for that so that we can get the extra rest. I think the motivation is there, and as crazy as it is, we still control our own destiny.”

The Los Angeles Sparks are back in action Sunday night to take on the Chicago Sky at 8 p.m. ET/5p.m. PT live on CBS Sports Network.

Los Angeles Highlights

  • Four Sparks players scored in double digits: Candace Parker (25), Chelsea Gray (18), Brittney Sykes (17), and Riquna Williams (10).
  • Candace Parker finished the game with 25 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. This is just the 15th time a player has put up a 25+/6+/6+/2+/2+ stat line, with Parker doing it for the 6th time.
  • Candace Parker scored 17 points in the first half.
  • Candace Parker went 5-for-6 from 3-point range, tying her career-high 3FGM