Parker scores 24 in Sparks' 87-77 win over Shock
LOS ANGELES (AP) Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks were glad to put their longest losing streak in three years behind them.
Candace Parker scored 24 points and the Sparks snapped a four-game losing streak with an 87-77 win over the Tulsa Shock on Thursday night.
Parker scored 16 of the Sparks' 25 third-quarter points and finished with seven rebounds and six assists. Alana Beard added 20 points and Jantel Lavender had 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds as the Sparks (4-7) ended their longest skid since they lost four in a row in 2011.
''After losing four, you kind of forget the feeling of what it is to leave a game and win,'' Parker said. ''I think it feels good, but don't think that this won the championship or anything like that. But it's a good start.''
Parker scored the final seven points of the third quarter for the Sparks, including a pair of free throws to put them ahead, 70-49. She made eight of 10 free throw attempts in a ragged third quarter that included 11 fouls by Tulsa.
The Shock took a 50-43 lead early in the third before Los Angeles pulled away on a 12-2 run. The Sparks outscored Tulsa 25-16 in the third after being outscored 29-16 and 32-15 in the third quarters of the previous two games.
''We know that we play really well closing out games,'' Lindsey Harding said. ''We're strong. We fight. We know that. We had this mentality that we've got the fourth quarter. We just need to really focus on the third.''
The Sparks avoided their worst start since they went 3-8 in 2010.
''Obviously this is a great win, a great step,'' Harding said. ''But there is a lot of stuff for us to work on.''
Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike left the game with a bruised nose after she was hit underneath the basket with 5:37 left in the third quarter. She will be re-evaluated Friday, a team official said.
Glory Johnson had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Skylar Diggins added 16 points for Tulsa (4-6), which saw its four-game winning streak end.
The Shock never got within single-digits in the fourth quarter but did outscore the Sparks 25-16 in the final 10 minutes. Tulsa's streak was its longest since it relocated from Detroit.
''Tonight we got beat by a team that really wanted to get a victory, and we wanted to keep the streak,'' Tulsa coach Fred Williams said. ''Playing against the Sparks, it's not easy to play against them on the road, but that will change.''
Lavender had 14 points and Beard 13 on a combined 12-for-18 shooting to help the Sparks take a 46-36 lead at halftime. Parker largely stayed on the perimeter and had eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Diggins did not make a field goal until hitting a floater with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter, but finished with 10 points in the first half. She made four straight baskets and Jordan Hooper made a 3-pointer to get Tulsa to 40-34 before the Sparks ran off six of the final eight points of the first half.
The Sparks took a 29-18 lead after the first quarter and Parker made a 3-pointer to give the Sparks their biggest lead of the first half at 32-18.
NOTES: Sparks guard Kristi Toliver missed a fourth straight game because she is training with the Slovakian national team and likely won't be available until the end of this month. ... Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks attended the game.