Parker, Sparks beat Shock, 92-73, clinch playoff spot
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Candace Parker scored a season-high 33 points and Nneka Ogwumike added 26, to help the Los Angeles Sparks clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference by beating the Tulsa Shock 92-73 on Sunday.
It will be the Sparks’ 15th postseason appearance, the most by any WNBA team.
“We just had a great focus,” Los Angeles coach Brian Agler said. “Tulsa is a really good team and they’re a tough team to defend. I thought our focus was as good as it has been all season long.”
Parker, who made a career-high five 3-pointers, added eight rebounds and five assists while Ogwumike finished with nine rebounds and three steals. Jantel Lavender had 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for Los Angeles (14-18).
The Sparks took a 49-37 lead into halftime and led by double digits for most of the second half until a 10-0 run by Tulsa (16-15) cut its deficit to 74-70 when Plenette Pierson hit a 3-pointer with 5:56 to play.
Ana Dabovic scored all 10 of her points from there as Los Angeles closed the game with an 18-3 run.
The Shock trailed by just three points at the end of the first quarter despite making just 7 of 19 shots while Los Angeles made 9 of 18 field goals.
Vicki Baugh’s three-point play to open the second quarter tied it at 22 but the Parker scored seven and Ogwumike four points during an 11-2 Sparks run over the next 3-plus minutes to extend its lead to 33-24.
Despite hitting 7-of-12 field goals in the quarter, the Shock fell 12 points behind at the break as Los Angeles made 12 of 16 from the field, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range.
Los Angeles recorded season-highs for field goals made in a half (21), points in a first half (49), field goal percentage in a half (.618), field goal percentage (.607) and 3-point field goal percentage (.545). The Sparks tied a season high by making 37 field goals.
“I think we can play better,” Parker said. “Everyone is feeling good but I still think that there is better basketball and our best basketball is still ahead of us.”
Los Angeles has won three in a row and six of its last seven.
Pierson and Odyssey Sims scored 21 apiece for Tulsa, which had its six game win streak snapped.