Candace Parker ties for fourth on WNBA’s career rebounding list in win over Wings
Parker finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, her ninth double-double this season. She tied Tamika Catchings on the all-time rebounding list with 3,316.
Ahead of Friday night’s game, Sky coach and general manager James Wade said it was a matter of time before backup point guard Julie Allemand found her scoring rhythm. In Courtney Vandersloot’s absence, Allemand has been an excellent facilitator but hasn’t involved herself like Wade believes she can.
That changed against the Wings.
With less than four minutes to play and the Sky trailing by one, Allemand knocked down a go-ahead three-pointer. The next play down the court, she made a driving layup that extended the lead to four.
The Sky controlled the game from there, prevailing 89-83 for their sixth straight win. Candace Parker finished with her 151st career double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) after pulling down six rebounds in the fourth quarter, tying Tamika Catchings for fourth on the WNBA all-time rebounding list with 3,316.
Allemand finished with a season-high 13 points after scoring 11 in the final quarter.
“The numbers tell a story that’s really big, but there are things the numbers cant say,” Wade said. “[Parker’s] presence on the floor gives us so much, especially when one of your pillars on the floor [Vandersloot] isn’t there.”
Relaxing a little over the 10 remaining regular-season games might be understandable for the Sky, who clinched a playoff berth Wednesday and have a firm hold on the top spot in the WNBA. But there’s no room for satisfaction, given the strength of their schedule. Six of those 10 games are against the top five teams. They play the Western Conference-leading Aces twice more (including Tuesday in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship), the Storm and Mystics once more and the Sun (second in the Eastern Conference behind the Sky) twice.
Wade expressed one desire as they finish out the regular season: more consistency. Playing the Wings for the second time in eight days, they struggled to put together a consistent defensive effort through all four quarters Friday, giving up 58 points in the paint — 16 more than their league-worst average.
Offense was a better story, as the Sky’s starting five all scored in double figures. Kahleah Copper led the way with 19 points and Emma Meesseman added 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. But the Sky can still tighten up in specific areas, including turnovers. Their average of 15 per game is seventh in the league, but in their losses, that average jumps to 16.5.
The Sky opened the season allowing a league-worst 13 second-chance points per game. While they have cut that to 11.7, it’s still last in the league. On Friday, they allowed 11 second-chance points.
“I’m excited that we still have stuff we need to improve on,” Parker said. “Defensively, when we’re set, I think we’re good. When we turn the ball over, that’s when we’re playing in the secondary and transition — that’s where they hurt us.”
Vandersloot, who’s in the concussion protocol, worked out with the team Friday but is unlikely to come along for Saturday’s road game in New York against the Liberty.
“I’m waiting on instruction,” Wade said. “But I think it’s better if she doesn’t [travel] so there’s no disruptions [to her recovery].”