Sparks Move To Top Of The WNBA
June 30, 2016
The Los Angeles Sparks have the best record in the WNBA and they proved last Tuesday that they can win games under difficult circumstances.
They fell behind by 22 points in the first half to the Dallas Wings but came back to win 89-84 at the Staples Center. The Sparks are 14-1 at press time.
Not only did the Sparks have to battle uphill for the victory the women's basketball world was shaken by the death of former University of Tennessee coach Pat Summit. Summitt meant so much to women's basketball and was especially instrumental in the career of Sparks star Candace Parker who played for Summit for four years (2005-2008).
Parker must have been thinking about Summitt in the second because she scored 25 of her 31 points in the second half. She also had 13 rebounds and seven assists. Also helping Parker and the Sparks pull away from the Wings was Essence Carson's 17 points and Kristi Toliver's 13 points.
This game also proved that this team is deep in talent and that on any given night a different player can step up and play a keep role. Against Dallas the Sparks leading scorer, Nneka Ogwumike was in foul trouble and played only 15 minutes in a 40-minute game, key reserve guard Chelsea Gray took an elbow to the face and did not return but that's when Carson hit 6 of 11 shots and made all four of her free throws to score her 17 points.
"We just stepped up our intensity in the second half," said Carson. "We got stops and we were able to turn those stops into points on the offensive end. As long as we hold each other accountable I think we can continue to play at a high level.
The chemistry on this team is a beautiful thing right now. It's a special thing right now and we just want to keep this going. We have a group of 12 great players on this team. Someone can have an off night but there is always another player that is willing to fill their shoes."
Another player who seems to step up every night is 6-4 center/forward Jantel Lavender. Against Dallas Lavender scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists in while playing 25 minutes off the bench.
"Whenever we put and hearts and minds into the game we can do whatever we want to do," said Lavender. "We realize there is a target on our backs and that every team will play is going to play their best game against us. If we stay together the possibilities are endless."
Other players who have come off the bench and helped the Sparks this year are Ana Dabovic, Jelena Dubljevic and Ann Wauters.
The Sparks will continue their six-game home stand on Sunday against New York at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, July 6 they'll play Indiana at 7:30 p.m. and they face Washington on Sunday, July 10 at 4 p.m. All home games are played at the Staples Center.