After a disappointing 88-63 loss to the Seattle Storm last week, the Los Angeles Sparks bounced back majorly with a convincing 77-59 win over the Chicago Sky on Sunday. A big reason for that success? Points in the paint.
The Sparks shot a red hot 68.6 percent on 11-16 shooting in the first quarter. A lot of these shots came from pushing tempo and fast break points being able to score in transition, which is an area the Sparks thrive on and it was a major downfall versus the Storm. Head coach Brian Agler felt they did a terrible job of reading what the defense was giving them and creating opportunities in the paint and his players agreed.
"I think we're all learning. A lot about getting paint point is about movement," said Candace Parker in the post-game press conference. "You can't get paint points if it's loaded in the paint. It's cutting, moving off the ball, being able to get out in transition and get those easy baskets. It doesn't matter how the ball gets in the basket, as long as it's finding the best shot."
Versus the Storm, the Sparks were held to just 37 percent shooting. Against the Sky, they shot over 49 percent, primarily coming off greater shot selection, ball movement, player movement and being able to get out in transition. Something they struggled with against the Storm. Below are the shot charts from the previous two games. You can see far more efficiency in the paint vs. the Sky than vs. the Storm.
Parker looked like THE Candace Parker in the performance with her first big-time game of the season thus far. Ten of her game-high 24 points came in the first quarter. She added six rebounds and three assists in just over 25 minutes of play. Check out this ridiculous pass from Parker that will surely make the 2018 WNBA Highlight Reel:
In Other News
The Sparks' first-round draft pick and Russian superstar, Maria Vadeeva, has officially joined the team after dealing her visa. She was in attendance at the game versus the Sky but did not suit up. The 6-foot-4 forward will be set to begin practice this week. The 19-year-old looked excited, engaged and cheering on her teammates during the win.
"Maria Vadeeva will practice tomorrow (Monday). Her integration will be slow depending on how she does," mentioned Agler. "You have to remember that we have a lot of really good players on our team. I've been in this league for several years, and I know that at some point everyone gets their opportunity. Everyone has to be ready for their opportunity, and she'll get one."
The Sparks improved to 5-2 on the season and and 3-1 at home win the win. They will host the Atlanta Dream, who are currently on a three game winning streak, on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:30pm PT.
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