WNBA: L.A. Sparks don’t lock up playoff berth falling to Tulsa Shock, 96-90.

L.A.'s Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 35 points in the Sparks 96-90 loss to the Tulsa Shock .
L.A.’s Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 35 points in the Sparks 96-90 loss to the Tulsa Shock .

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.

 

WNBA: L.A. Sparks can clinch playoff berth with win over Tulsa at Staples Center

Candace Parker looks to lead the L.A. Sparks back into the playoffs with a win tonight over the Tulsa Shock at Staples Center.
Candace Parker looks to lead the L.A. Sparks back into the playoffs with a win tonight over the Tulsa Shock at Staples Center.

LOS ANGELES – A win tonight over the Tulsa Shock at Staples Center and the Los Angeles Sparks secure a playoff berth for the third straight season.

Los Angeles (13-15) currently sits as the third seed in the Western Conference with five games left in the regular season. A win tonight over Tulsa (10-19) gives the Sparks a four-and-a-half game lead with four games left.

It seems the Sparks are getting hot at the right time winning four of their last five games going into the final two weeks of the season.

Sunday’s dramatic 70-69 win at Staples over the Connecticut Sun looks as if it’s provided, ahem, a Spark for Los Angeles.

Trailing by six points with 29 seconds left in the game, the Sparks scored seven straight points thanks to some superior pressure defense culminating when Nneka Ogwumike stole and inbounds pass getting the rock to Candace Wiggins who found Kristi Toliver for an open three-pointer with nine seconds left putting the Sparks ahead for good. When you consider Toliver had been 0-for-6 from the field up until that clinching three went in, she was obviously clutch when she had to be.

“For me it’s not about what happened,” said Toliver after the win, “It’s about what you can make happen in the moment.”

Alana Beard had a team-high 18 points while Candace Parker scored nine after missing a couple of games with a left knee strain.

Tulsa can still make the playoffs even with a loss to the Sparks. Coming in they trail San Antonio by three games with five left. The Shock’s problem is the finish the season with four of their five games on the road – including tonight’s game in Los Angeles – where they’re 3-and-10 away from home.

Tip-off from Staples Center is set for 7:40 pm.

WNBA: Sparks end 4-game losing streak. Beat Tulsa Shock, 87-77.

Sparks beat Tulsa, 87-77.
Sparks beat Tulsa, 87-77.

LOS ANGELES – Talk about June Gloom, and I certainly don’t mean the weather.

The Los Angeles Sparks have been in a free fall ever since the calendar turned to June losing 7-of-8 including the last four coming into Thursday night’s game against the Tulsa Shock at Staples Center.

A nice ray of sunshine for the Sparks who were led by Candace Parker’s game-high 24 points halting that losing skid beating Tulsa, 87-77.

The defense sparked the Sparks as they turned 15 Shock turnovers into 13 points with most of them coming in a first quarter that saw Los Angeles pull away early and never look back.

“We played well in the first couple of minutes of the game.” Said Parker who also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. “It got us off to a good start. Got some easy buckets. Got some stops. I think that was the key.”

After Tulsa took the opening tip Jantel Lavender stole the ball pushing it forward to Parker for the 2-0 lead.

 

Candace Parker led everyone with 24 points in L.A.'s 87-77 win over Tulda.
Candace Parker led everyone with 24 points in L.A.’s 87-77 win over Tulsa.

Leading 19-10, Armentie Herrington got in on the thievery and pushed it to Alana Beard who got the hoop and the hack scoring three of her 20 points putting L.A. up by 12.

“We knew that we needed to come out and jump on them defensively,” said Lavender who registered a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. “We knew if we handled them on the defensive end our offense would flow. We were making the extra passes and got into an offensive rhythm early in the game.”

Lindsey Harding added 18 for the Sparks who widened their lead to 23 in the third quarter.

Nneka Ogwumike was held to just two points and left the game in the third after getting stuck by an elbow in the nose. She immediately went to the locker room where x-rays taken were negative. Diagnosed with a severe bruise she’ll be evaluated later in the week.

The win improves the Sparks’ record to 4-7. Los Angeles plays host to the San Antonio Silver Stars Sunday afternoon at Staples Center. The Sparks were trounced in San Antonio last weekend, 101-74. Sunday’s tip-off is set for 12:30pm PDT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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