LOS ANGELES (AP) Odyssey Sims has shown a lot of poise as a rookie, and the Tulsa Shock needed it to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
Sims scored 30 points, Glory Johnson and Skylar Diggins each added 18 points, and the Shock beat the Los Angeles Sparks 96-90 on Tuesday night.
Johnson had nine rebounds as the Shock (11-19) snapped a two-game losing streak and moved 2 1-2 games out of a playoff spot with four games remaining.
Sims scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive baskets on a 3-pointer and a drive in the paint to complete a 19-8 run that put the game away. The Sparks pulled to 95-90 with eight seconds remaining, but were forced to foul.
The Shock scored 60 points in the paint and had a 37-17 rebound advantage, including 16-3 on the offensive end.
”We were able to get out and run,” Sims said. ”The posts did a great job of not letting them bother me and Skylar in the open court, and that gives us opportunity to make things happen. On the offensive boards, we just kept crashing.”
Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 35 points and Candace Parker had 28 points, nine assists and four rebounds for the Sparks (13-16), who missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth.
Ogwumike had 24 points in the first half on 9-for-10 shooting, but Tulsa led 50-44 at the break. The 50 points matched Tulsa’s season high for the first half. She went 12 for 18 from the field and made all 11 of her free-throw attempts.
”I was just shooting, really,” Ogwumike said. ”My teammates found me, and I’ve been working on my shot a lot more now, and I’m a little bit more comfortable especially with the confidence that my teammates give me.”
Ogwumike passed her career high when she completed a three-point play in the paint for her 31st point, then finished an alley-oop pass from Parker. The Sparks trailed for most of the third quarter but scored the final six points, on four Parker free throws and a Lindsey Harding jumper, to take a 68-66 lead.
Sims opened the fourth quarter on a three-point play to give Tulsa the lead for good at 69-68. The Shock secured offensive rebounds on three straight possessions during the fourth-quarter run.
”I thought our rotating on offense of certain patterns that we wanted to do made their defense shift, and we were able to get in the paint a little bit more, and I think that helped Odyssey a great deal,” Tulsa coach Fred Williams said.
”She’s learning each and every game. She had a little struggle at the beginning in the first or five games, but her and Sky has really teamed up to be a good backcourt combination. And our post game is getting a little bit stronger.”
Rebounding has really hurt the Sparks late this season, a disconcerting trend given they have a front line of Parker, Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender.
”A lot of is about effort and focus, and I think sometimes we focus too much on other things and maybe we forget to, or we’re out of position,” Ogwumike said. ”It’s just a combination of a lot of things.”
Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee attended the game.