Candace Parker sits with a strained left knee. Sparks beat Indiana, 77-73.

Sparks star Candace Parker, sidelined with a strained left knee,  grimaces during L.A.'s 77-73 win over Indiana Monday night at Staples Center.
Sparks star Candace Parker, sidelined with a strained left knee, grimaces during L.A.’s 77-73 win over Indiana Monday night at Staples Center.

LOS ANGELES – Suffering from a strained left knee that’s hampered her since just before the All-Star break, Sparks leader and reigning WNBA MVP Candace Parker couldn’t go Monday night at Staples Center against the Indiana Fever.

Los Angeles responded as Nneka Ogwumike led four starters in double figures pouring in a game-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds in the Sparks’ 77-73 win over Indiana.

Wearing pink uniforms for Breast Cancer Awareness Night the Sparks (12-14) recorded a second straight win and broke a five-game home losing streak. Los Angeles’ last home win was a 90-83 victory over Chicago way back on July 1st.

The decision to sit Parker for the entire game actually came from Parker herself saying she couldn’t go after testing the knee during pre-game warm-ups.

Sparks vice president, general manager and now head coach Penny Toler – who took over the coaching reigns after relieving Carol Ross of her head coaching duties on July 20th – agreed with her star keeping her in uniform and on the bench for the entire ballgame.

The L.A. Sparks wore pink uniforms in Monday's 77-73 win over Indiana at Staples Center for Breast Cancer Awareness Night.
The L.A. Sparks wore pink uniforms in Monday’s 77-73 win over Indiana at Staples Center for Breast Cancer Awareness Night.

Since taking over, Toler has now guided L.A. to two straight wins after opening with two straight losses.

To hear from Toler, Ogwumike and guard Alana Beard on the importance of breaking that home losing skid, click on the video below for their post game video comments.

There were 16 lead changes in the ballgame. The key was a second quarter where L.A. only allowed the Fever (12-14) to score eight points holding Indiana to  4-for-14 from the floor – a 29% shooting clip – while the Sparks shot 59% in the frame hitting 7-of-12 from the field registering 20 points and grabbing a 35-31 halftime lead.

Nine-time WNBA all-star and three-time Olympic Gold medalist Tameka Catchings led Indiana with 16 points in the loss. Erlana Larkins registered a double-double in a losing effort with 10 points and 10 boards.

The Sparks got great efforts from all their starters. Guard Alana Beard registered 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. Jantel Lavender added 13 points. Kristi Tolliver had 10 and Armentie Harrington – getting the start in place of Parker – finished with nine and 10 rebounds.

The Sparks currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the western conference with eight games remaining in the regular season. if the season ended today they’d have a first-round match-up with Britney Griner and the west’s top team – the Phoenix Mercury – who have won all three regular season games against L.A. so far.

Barring a severely sore left knee, Parker will be back in the line-up Tuesday night when they head to the Valley of the Sun for the final regular season game with Griner and the Mercury. A win in that final match-up in Phoenix would give L.A. its second three-game win streak of the season and go a long way confidence-wise heading into a playoff series against the Mercury.

Tip-off is set for 7pm in Phoenix.

 

 

Candace Parker out with left knee strain. L.A. Sparks host Indiana Fever tonight.

LOS ANGELES – Clinging to the 4th and final playoff spot in the WNBA Western Conference the L.A. Sparks (11-14) host the Indiana Fever (12-13) tonight at Staples Center.

Sparks leader Candace Parker is on the bench with a left knee strain against the Indiana Fever tonight at Staples Center.
Sparks leader Candace Parker is on the bench with a left knee strain against the Indiana Fever tonight at Staples Center.

They’ll have to end a five-game home losing streak without the services of defending league MVP and Sparks leading scorer Candace Parker who is out with a left knee strain that’s been nagging her since the All-Star break two weeks ago.

The Sparks will be wearing pink uniforms for Breast Cancer Awareness and Health Night.

Since Carol Ross was relieved of her coaching duties July 20th and replaced by Vice President and GM Penny Toler, the Sparks have lost tow of three finally getting into that win column with a 77-69 win in Seattle over the Storm for their 4th straight road win.

One of those four straight road wins came in Indianapolis with the Sparks recording 86-78 win over the Fever.

Parker registered a season-high 34 points in the win, her 11th career 30+ point regular season game.

In those four wins the Sparks have held the opposition to ten or less points during second-half quarter holding the Liberty to just four in the 4th quarter of a 68-54 win in New York. The Sparks held the Connecticut Sun and Seattle Storm to 10 third quarter points and the Fever to 10 fourth quarter points

Sparks guard Kristi Tolliver knocked down three three-pointers on her way to 22 points in the win at Indiana.

When Tolliver hits two or more three-pointers the Sparks are 5-4.

With nine games left in the regular season, Los Angeles holds a two-and-a-half game lead over the Tulsa Shock for the 4th and final playoff spot.

The Fever are led by nine-time WNBA All-Star and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Tameka Catchings. She’s the league’s active career leader in rebounds, steals, free throws and double-doubles. Catchings is second among active leaders in scoring and block shots.

Through the last eight games Catchings is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds notching 20 points in five of those eight games. Indiana’s coming off of a 75-68 win over the Silver Stars in San Antonio Friday night.

Tip-off for tonight’s game is set for 7:40.

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