Hobbling Candace Parker lights up Sky as Sparks win 102-88

Written By BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media Posted: 06/07/2014, 03:57pm
Array ROSEMONT, IL - JUNE 6: Elena Delle Donne #11 of the Chicago Sky takes a shot against the Los Angeles Sparks on June 6, 2014 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Candace Parker has had easier nights. Hampered by a twisted left ankle, Parker didn’t start Friday but still scored 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting in almost 22 minutes.

That said, things could be a lot worse for the Naperville Central grad and reigning WNBA MVP, whose Los Angeles Sparks bounced the Sky 102-88 at Allstate Arena.

In December, Sparks owner Paula Madison effectively gave up control of the team and returned it to the league. There was speculation the franchise would be bought by the Golden State Warriors and moved to the Bay Area or perhaps fold if nothing materialized.

“Well, it was really tough just in terms of not knowing. L.A. is home to me and [it’s difficult] just not knowing that we were going to be there or what was happening,” Parker said. “I’m really happy that our owner stepped forward and kept us in L.A.”

Of course, that new ownership isn’t any ownership or one that could end up short of funds. It’s an investment group led by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter, the people who have injected new life (and money) into the Dodgers.

Walter, a graduate of the Northwestern law school, lives in the Chicago area and was called by Sky owner Michael Alter about the Sparks’ troubles to gauge interest in a possible purchase. That call eventually led to Walter, Johnson and their partners taking over the Sparks in February and keeping the WNBA viable in one of its most important markets.

A significant aspect of the franchise’s ­appeal is Parker.

“We’ve met three or four times, I’ve been to a couple games with her and she’s fantastic,” Walter said. “She’s incredible.”

The Sparks (3-3) had a great effort against the Sky (5-2), led by Parker — who also grabbed six rebounds and had six assists — and Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver (18 points each). The Sparks shot 55.8 percent and were the first opponent to score more than 100 against the Sky since June 23, 2011.

That was more than enough to cancel out a record night for Elena Delle Donne. She set a career-high with 33 points and hit 16 free throws — the most without a miss in WNBA history.

“The only thing that matters is the score, and we just were not ourselves at all,” Delle Donne said.

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