Diggins scores 22 to lead Shock past Sparks, 69-67
TULSA, Okla. (AP) Skylar Diggins seems to know exactly when her team needs a scoring boost.
The former Notre Dame star made the tiebreaking jumper with 1.9 seconds left to finish with 22 points and lead the Tulsa Shock to a 69-67 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night for their third straight win.
”In situations like that my teammates put a lot of trust in me,” Diggins said. ”My teammates believe in me. Early on the season those situations didn’t go our way but it shows a lot that my teammates have faith in me.”
Diggins reached double figures for the seventh time in eight games this season after accomplishing the feat just 10 times as a rookie last year.
She is quick to credit teammates Courtney Paris and Glory Johnson for creating open lanes to the basket or backcourt mate Odyssey Sims who cleared out the right side of the basket on the game-winning basket.
”I have the easy part, just finishing the shot,” Diggins said. ”It’s nice to get a win against one of the best teams in the league. Now we have the same record (3-5) as them.”
Jordan Hooper added 12 points, including two 3-pointers, for the Shock (3-5). Johnson had 11 points and Paris finished with 15 rebounds.
Candace Parker scored 18 points and Nneka Ogwumike had 17 to lead the Sparks (3-5).
Shock coach Fred Williams said it was nice to get a close win, especially after shooting 35.6 percent from the field. The Shock shot 93 percent from the free-throw line and hit four 3-pointers, compared to one for the Sparks.
”No, I never would have thought we would win, especially against an LA team, shooting 35.6 percent,” Williams said. ”Adding Odyssey (Sims) to the backcourt has helped open (scoring) opportunities for Skylar. Sky is one of those players who likes to make the big plays.
”Our bench gave us some great minutes. When Jordan gets hot, I like to go to her. She did an admirable job on Candace Parker in the fourth quarter. We’re all about protecting home court.”
Diggins said Shock have taken the team-first approach of the San Antonio Spurs, who lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals.
”We’ve watched a lot of the finals and how they pass the ball,” she said. ”We’re really starting to jell. It was important to protect the home court. We’ve won three in a row. That’s a streak now. We’re on the other end of the streak now. It was total team effort.”
In a game that featured 13 lead changes and 12 ties, Tulsa went ahead midway through the third period on Diggins’ basket for a 47-45 lead. Los Angeles fell behind by seven before rallying to tie the score on Jantel Lavendar’s basket with 4:38 to play.
Parker’s free throws with 56.7 seconds remaining gave the Sparks a 67-65 lead. Diggins answered to knot the game at 57-all with 42.4 seconds to play before getting the game-winner.
Parker had a contested attempt to tie the game, but the ball clanked off the front rim.
”Our post defense was unbelievable in the second half,” Diggins said.