Sparks 76, Shock 69
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Kristi Toliver scored 21 points and Lindsey Harding added 20 to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Tulsa Shock 76-69, in overtime on Saturday night.
Toliver made a long jumper to give the Sparks (2-1) the lead for good at 68-67. Harding made four free throws in overtime and an impressive right-hand scoop shot that pushed it to 74-69. The Shock (1-5) were held to three points and one field goal in overtime.
''That's all we've talked about all week after our last game before this in San Antonio,'' Harding said. ''We felt that we rely too much on our offense sometimes with the talent that we have, so we need to put it on defense and we feel that's exactly what it did for us: It came through. That was thing. Our chant out of the huddle was `Defense.'''
Candace Parker added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Sparks, although she was held to five points in the second half and overtime.
Glory Johnson led Tulsa with 17 points and rookie Skylar Diggins had 10. Three of Tulsa's five losses have come in overtime this season.
Tulsa played without starters Liz Cambage and Tiffany Jackson-Jones because of ankle injuries as well as top reserve Riquna Williams because of a concussion.
''The silver lining I get out of this game is we're battling and competitive with one of what I think is one of the top teams in the league with a chance to win in regulation,'' Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. ''We couldn't get it done but I love the competitiveness, the mental toughness. We're growing each game.''
Trailing 66-65 with 13.9 seconds left in regulation, Parker was fouled. She made one of the two free throws to tie it. Tulsa called consecutive timeouts before Diggins' bank-shot attempt missed at the buzzer.
Tulsa took a 66-62 lead with more than a minute left when Johnson made two free throws and a driving layup against Parker. Toliver got wide open and made a 3-pointer on the Sparks' next possession and L.A. got the ball back after Diggins missed a long jumper to set up the play for Parker.
Diggins, the third pick in this year's draft, was guarded by Harding and Toliver for most of the night.
''She's getting an education by fire,'' Kloppenburg said. ''It's a totally different game - the college game to the pro game - learning the screen roll, learning all the nuances of playing point guard. But the thing we love about her is she's a competitor. She wants to win. She's going to find a way to win. I think as she develops that experience that she's getting she's going to be an excellent point guard in this league.''
Alana Beard returned after she missed the previous game with a hamstring injury but sat out the second half.