The team was out of sync all night and trailed throughout in Parker’s season debut.
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Sparks got a much welcomed boost to their lineup with the return of Candace Parker who had missed the first seven games of the season after suffering a hamstring injury in the team’s first preseason game.
That was about all the good news the Sparks had in Parker’s return as they fell to the visiting Washington Mystics, 81-52, in a game that wasn’t really close at all.
The Sparks found themselves down by 21 at the half and despite a brief surge at the beginning of the third quarter, the Mystics quickly regained control of the game. The Sparks perimeter defense was out of sync all night as Washington continually got open looks from the three-point line.
Parker struggled from the field in her season debut, shooting only 1-for-9 from the field and getting to the free-throw line only two times. There were questions leading up to the season as to how the three big rotation of Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Chiney Ogwumike and if last night was any indication, it’s going to be a work in progress.
More from Los Angeles Sparks
- Bet $5 on Sparks vs. Sky, Win $150 Instantly with Limited-Time DraftKings Promo
- Los Angeles Sparks name Curt Miller next head coach
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, November 2: Shakeup in the ACC with Bollin commit, UNC retool
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 14: Mystics are going dancing
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 10: Dream are (mathematically) stayin’ alive
To this point in her career, Parker has been a point-forward and last season she was used primarily as a power forward. With both Ogwumike sisters in the lineup, Parker was moved to small forward, a position she isn’t as familiar with.
“I played the four last year, and now we are inserting myself into the lineup at the three, which nobody is used to because we haven’t gotten a lot of reps with that,” Parker told reporters after the game. “I think that’s two adjustments for me personally as well as the team.”
Head coach Derek Fisher also attributed the loss to a lack of energy that might have occurred due to the rest of the team deferring a bit too much to Parker.
“This was our first time really playing as a team with Candace on the floor. She obviously isn’t at her peak levels, but it was also obvious that a lot of our group expected things to be better because she is back, but they are not just going to magically appear,” Fisher told reporters after the game. “It’s not fair to place that burden on Candace and it also is not fair to themselves as a group to expect great things to come.”
Despite the lopsided loss, there were a couple of takeaways the Sparks could turn into positives moving forward. Nneka Ogwumike has continued to stand out as one of the best interior defenders in the league. Just a couple nights after holding Tina Charles to 4-for-17 shooting, she kept Elena Della Donne in check for most of the night.
Also, Sydney Wiese, who had been starting prior to Parker’s return, gave the Sparks some good energy throughout the game. She scored a season-high 12 points off the bench and was aggressive for most of the night. Putting her back into the starting lineup is something that might be worth taking another look at.
Moving forward, Parker believes that the team will eventually get to where they need to be once they get all the on court chemistry figured out.
“Obviously I need to go back to the drawing board with them and take a few reps with them and relearn how to play with this team,” Parker said. “I think we will go back and figure out our strengths and play to those.”
Love our 24/7 women’s basketball coverage? Join our Patreon now and support this work, while getting extra goodies and subscriber-only content for yourself.