Candace Parker’s return to the court came at a dire time.
The Sky were on a seven-game losing streak, and coach and general manager James Wade said her presence provided an instant sense of calm and a jolt of energy.
After her first game back and a stat line that was less than satisfying for her personally, Parker is focused on impacting the game in other ways while her ankle continues to heal.
“I told Diamond [DeShields] ‘I don’t think you fully understand how much you can impact the game, not just scoring,’ ” Parker said after the Sky’s 92-76 victory against the visiting Fever on Wednesday night. “I had to go to myself and tell myself that.”
Parker wants her energy to be at 100% even if her body is quite there yet. She finished with three points, five rebounds and two assists in almost 18 minutes. Wade has her on a minutes restriction that will limit her to no more than 20 minutes a game. She said her ankle feels good, but she’s still far from her full capabilities.
Parker suffered the injury before the team’s second game of the season on the road against the Atlanta Dream. It originally was described as a minor sprain.
Parker said the shootaround ahead of that game against the Dream turned into one-on-one, and because of her competitive nature, she went a little bit harder than she should have and rolled her ankle. She said she knew right away it wasn’t good.
Parker shared a picture of her ankle before the Sky’s home opener against the New York Liberty that showed severe bruising and swelling. She ended up missing eight games.
Parker has been rehabbing with team trainers in Chicago and a team she has back home in Los Angeles. She has been doing everything from strength work to seeing a chiropractor and getting acupuncture.
There still is some residual swelling, but Parker said that’s expected to diminish in the coming weeks.
The Sky play the Fever again Saturday (noon, Ch. 26), this time in Indianapolis.
One thing the team missed was Parker’s transition game. She laughed when discussing her conditioning and inability to get out and run like she normally would, but in the first sequence of the game Wednesday night, fans saw what they’ve been missing.
Parker grabbed a defensive rebound and passed the ball down the court to Kahleah Copper for an easy transition bucket.
“It’s kind of like being a quarterback and having a receiver that can go up and get anything,” Parker said. “That’s what Kah does. She’s super-athletic and runs. Having her and Diamond on the wings, it’s a dream come true for me.”
Parker said once she gets her lungs back, that’s what fans can expect every game.
Wade took out 60% of the team’s playbook before the game against the Fever, and the offense was able to move more freely with better spacing. All 10 players were able to contribute points.
The Sky also limited their turnovers to 10. They’re worst in the league in turnovers, averaging 17.6 per game.
Parker said there is still a lot this team can do, and Wednesday was just a glimpse.
“At some point every season, every team hits a little adversity,” Parker said. “We got smacked in the face with it. We acknowledge losing seven straight is not ideal, but it’s how you get back up.”