Shock Can't Keep Pace With Sparks
Candace Parker scored 33 points and had a career-high nine blocks and the Los Angeles Sparks remained undefeated at home with a 95-79 victory against the Tulsa Shock on Wednesday night.
The Sparks (9-3) improved to 6-0 at home, their best start since they went 7-0 in 2006.
Parker went 14 for 21 from the field and her 33 points matched a season high.
Kristi Toliver scored 22 points, including 14 for 14 from the free throw line.
Toliver, who had a WNBA-record 14 turnovers on May 29 against Tulsa, had only three turnovers.
The Shock (1-10), who ended a 15-game losing streak Sunday, lost their ninth consecutive road game. Tulsa's last road win came at Los Angeles on Aug. 26, 2011.
Glory Johnson led Tulsa with a season-high 19 points and Temeka Johnson added 11.
Riquna Williams, who scored 15 fourth-quarter points on Sunday, had 10 points on 2 for 12 shooting on Wednesday.
Parker helped respond to two Tulsa rallies in the fourth quarter. Her basket inside pushed the lead to 88-73 after the Shock pulled within nine points with 4:32 remaining.
Tulsa had closed within 10 with 8:25 remaining on Amber Holt's 3-pointer. On the ensuing possession, Parker made a 3-pointer while she was fouled. Parker missed the free throw, but Marissa Coleman got the rebound, and passed to Parker for a finger roll to push the lead to 78-63.
Parker was frustrated at not completing the four-point play but she liked the blocks total.
"I'm going to be able to go home and whip out my thumb to my husband a little bit,'' said Parker, who is married to NBA player Shelden Williams. "He prides himself on the defensive end. It's always fun to be able to do that.''
Parker's career has been interrupted by injuries and pregnancy the past two seasons, but the Sparks are happy to have her back.
"Unfortunately, for her, it's what people expect,'' Sparks coach Carol Ross said. "She's got high expectations for herself. She's created a very high standard for excellence. Sometimes she makes 30-something point and nine blocks seem like a routine day at the office.
"For the rest of us, that could be a week's worth of basketball. She has great gifts. Fortunately, tonight, when we needed someone to put us on our back, she was able to carry us through us some rough spots.''
Tulsa played its first game without third-leading scorer Jennifer Lacy, who tore the meniscus in her right knee Sunday and could be out 4 to 6 weeks.
"It hurts us because she shoots the ball so well,'' Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "We're trying to see if we can't get her knee to calm down and maybe use her. We're just in a state of flux right now to see if we can't get that rehabbed and get her back in the lineup this next week.''
Kloppenburg still took positives from the loss despite allowing the Sparks to shoot a season-high 54.8 percent. The Shock's 79 points were the most allowed at home by L.A. this season. Tulsa committed only eight turnovers.
"It's a competitive team that will fight,'' Kloppenburg said. "They've got some mental toughness and resiliency. We've got some things to build on as we move forward.''
Coleman grabbed five of her six rebounds in the second half.
"Marissa was so key tonight,'' Parker said. "Her energy, those extra hustle plays, those extra deflections. I think every team needs that. In past games it's come from Nneka (Ogwumike). Today it was Marissa making those extra plays.''
Toliver helped maintain a 10-point lead through three quarters by getting to the free throw line for seven points. She scored eight of the Sparks' 18 points in the third.
Parker scored 17 points in the first half on 7 for 9 shooting from the field to help give the Sparks a 49-39 halftime lead. The Sparks made 20 of 29 field goal attempts in the first half, including 5 for 5 by DeLisha Milton-Jones.