LOS ANGELES- Riding their best stretch of the season having won four-of-five games coming into Tuesday’s game the Los Angeles Sparks took a small step backwards falling to the Tulsa Shock, 96-90 at Staples Center.
A win over the Shock would’ve clinched a Western Conference playoff spot but now Los Angeles will have to wait. And when you consider the Shock were 3-10 on the road entering Tuesday’s game, it certainly was an opportunity lost.
Also lost were the performances of forwards Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker. Ogwumike knocked down a career-high 35 points and Parker poured in 28 points to go along with nine assists. Rebounding stats were few and far between for Los Angeles which was out-rebounded 37-17 including 16 to 3 on the offensive glass.
After coming back from a nine-point deficit in the first quarter and trailing by six at the half, the Sparks took a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 68-66.
Los Angeles only scored two points in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter while Tulsa scored 14 to take the lead for good basically putting the game away. Odyssey Sims drained 15 of her team-high 30 points in the frame. Rebounding was the key for the Shock limiting L.A. to one shot at its end while the Shock grabbed rebounds and pushed the action in the other direction.
“We weren’t hitting shots on offense and they were getting the rebounds.” Said Parker of that 14-2 Tulsa run that put the game out of reach. “We didn’t get back on defense so they got some easy shots on the other end.”
To hear more from Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and L.A. head coach Penny Toler, click on the video with this story.
The Sparks had no one else in double figures. Glory Johnson and Skylar Wiggins each added 18 points apiece for the winners.
Currently sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot in the west, a win in any of the last five regular season games for the Sparks punches their post-season ticket.
L.A.’s next opportunity comes at home Friday night against the Eastern Conference’s top seed, the Atlanta Dream. tip-off is set for 7:30pm PDT at Staples Center.