Parker has another productive homecoming
It was reunion weekend for Candace Parker's family in Naperville.
So the WNBA star and Naperville Central product had even more fans in the stands Sunday than she usually does when she brings her Los Angeles Sparks to Chicago to take on the hometown Sky.
"My whole family is here, so I'm really excited," Parker said. "My grandma is here, my dad, my brothers, my mom, everybody. This was a special (reunion). And they're all here in white T-shirts with 'Parker' on the back."
Team Parker witnessed another special performance from their most famous family member.
In front of a Wintrust Arena crowd of 6,477 in the South Loop, Parker went off for a game-high 23 points to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a 93-76 victory.
The Sparks had been struggling of late, losing five of seven as the injury bug was taking a bite out of the team. Starters Alana Beard and Nneka Ogwumike did not play against the Sky because of injury/illness.
"You just kind of deal with it," Parker said of the key injuries. "We play with who we have on the court and we don't make excuses. This was no different."
The Sparks still got double figures out of all five starters, with Essence Carson and Odyssey Sims each adding 16 points, Jantel Lavender scoring 14 and Chelsea Gray finishing with 11 to go along with 9 assists.
"Obviously it was a huge void with (Beard and Ogwumike) missing," Parker said, "but it's not going to be one player who does it. It's going to be a team effort. Tonight, I thought we came out and defended. It was getting stops for us, making things difficult for them."
Parker also made things difficult for the Sky on the Los Angeles offensive end. Particularly in the third quarter when she scored 10 and pretty much took over to extend the Sparks' 40-38 halftime lead to as many as 18 points.
"Whether it was scoring or passing or assisting, (Parker) was just doing whatever she wanted," said Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who followed up her triple-double effort Friday against Dallas with 15 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds against Los Angeles. "We can't beat them if we let her do that."
Parker finished with 12 rebounds and 7 assists to go with her 23 points.
"That's almost a triple-double," Vandersloot continued on Parker. "I think she's the key to their offense. She's tough to guard. I mean, she's a great player. It's hard, it's tough. We had players really working and trying, but she's going to have games like that, and tonight she did."
The Sky, which also got double figures from Stefanie Dolson (team-high 20 points) and reserve Cheyenne Parker (14 points), were hoping to take better advantage of the Sparks' key injuries.
"This was a great opportunity for us to use our depth," Sky coach Amber Stocks said. "That was something we should have been able to use to our advantage."