Sky’s Candace Parker will make her ‘home’ debut from the bench
The team said Friday that she would miss her eighth straight game. It would’ve been her return game at Staples Center.
Before the season began, Candace Parker’s Sky teammates raved about the qualities she brings to the court, not just her athletic skills but her coach’s mentality.
She’s frequently seen pulling teammates aside during games and talking through sets, pointing out another way to approach the possession. Her arm usually goes around a teammate’s shoulder, then she’ll point to different spots on the court.
Since spraining her left ankle after the season opener against the Washington Mystics, Parker has been having an impact from the bench.
But Parker was noticeably absent for the Sky’s 77-74 overtime loss Thursday to the Phoenix Mercury, the team’s sixth straight defeat.
She flew straight home to Los Angeles, arriving a day earlier than her teammates to continue rehabbing her ankle.
The team announced Friday that she would miss her eighth consecutive game.
Naperville is where Parker grew up, but L.A. will always be home. After all, she spent the first 13 years of her career with the Sparks and accomplished everything a player can in the WNBA.
“It’s so hard to leave a place you’ve been for 13 years,” Parker said before the season. “L.A. is home to me.”
Parker has played in only one game for the Sky. The ankle injury, first described by coach/general manager James Wade as a moderate sprain, has kept her tied to the bench. Wade said Parker has been rehabbing every day.
She has good days and bad days, according to Wade. Parker had gotten the swelling down and built up the strength to work out, but the swelling returned.
Without Parker, the Sky have dropped six of seven games. Allie Quigley, who was out with a hamstring injury for six games after the season opener, returned Thursday and contributed eight points and three assists.
Wade and the players have stressed that the team isn’t whole. The Sky also were without Stefanie Dolson for their five home losses. She was busy qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics with the United States’ three-on-three team. Wade also traded away the eighth overall pick in the WNBA Draft, Shyla Heal, for Dana Evans and the cap space to sign experienced guard Lexie Brown to a rest-of-season contract.
The roster has been in flux since the season began. So can they win with the eight or nine players who have been steadily available?
“A hundred percent we can,” Dolson said before the Sky’s second consecutive loss to the Mercury.
The Sky have struggled to put four quarters together, with five of their six losses coming by fewer than 10 points. They will have their first five-on-five practice Monday, which Wade expects will make a difference.
In their back-to-back losses to the Mercury, they blew double-digit leads in the fourth quarter because of poor execution and clock management.
A technical foul against Courtney Vandersloot in the last 30 seconds Thursday with the Sky up by one was rescinded by the league Friday, Wade said. Skylar Diggins-Smith’s free throw was crucial for the Mercury.
On the bright side, the Sky, who have the worst turnover rate in the league, had their lowest turnover numbers of the season in the two games against Phoenix.
Still in search of their first victory since May 19, the Sky realize cohesion is critical. In a 32-game season, they don’t have time to waste. They need to win now.
“There’s enough on this roster right now to win games,” Vandersloot said.