Sky look to even series with Sparks
Los Angeles' front-line of star players and 12 days of rest to regain the stride the Sparks lost during the final 10 games of the regular season proved too much for the Chicago Sky to overcome in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals.
But the Sky have not lost hope and take a measure of confidence into Game 2 of the best-of-five series Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Candace Parker, the 2008 and 2013 league MVP, and Nneka Ogwumike, this year's MVP, combined for 57 points and 19 rebounds in the Sparks' 95-75 victory in Game 1. Nineteen of Parker's 30 points came in the first half when Chicago center Imani Boyette was on the bench with foul trouble.
Los Angeles coach Brian Agler liked Parker's all-around effort.
"It's not just her scoring that makes her great," Agler said. "When she handles the ball in the middle of the floor there's a lot of positive things that can happen, and she's pretty hard to stop."
Ogwumike was honored for her MVP season prior to the game Wednesday and paired with Parker to show how good the Sparks can be when they are firing on all cylinders.
"It's been nothing but love the last few days, and the break gave us a chance to reset and make find some of the things we were missing at the end of the regular season," Ogwumike said. "It's been awesome, and this (win) was a great way to start off our run."
The Sky was shorthanded and will remain that way for at least the next few games with Elena Delle Donne, last season's MVP and this year's scoring champion, watching from the bench in street clothes. Delle Donne has been sidelined since Sept. 12 after undergoing thumb surgery but could be a huge factor later in the series.
"Nneka was the MVP tonight, but so was Candace," Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. "Parker's an MVP-type player, she has played with had a chip on her shoulder all season. Big-time players step up and she did (Wednesday)."
Chicago had four players in double-figure scoring in Game 1 led by Jamierra Faulkner's 13 points off the bench.
Los Angeles won all four meetings this season by double-digit margins, including twice in Chicago with Delle Donne in the Sky lineup.
Game 3 is set for Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.