Parker and Ogwumike Heat Things Up for SparksJune 9, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – When the L.A. Sparks selected the best player in the 2012 WNBA draft, Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike, their fans everywhere envisioned a night just this one.
Candace Parker: 23 points, 10 rebounds.
Nneka Ogwumike: 25 points, 12 rebounds.
In a game where it appeared that team cohesion for either side seemed something that exists only off in a distant future, the Sparks two young superstars gave a glimpse of the chemistry that matters most to the future of the WNBA’s L.A. franchise.
“With every day in practice and in games, we slowly get to understand each other’s games,” said Ogwumike. “I think these last few games,” she added, “it has finally been connecting.”
The result was a 90-74 win for the Sparks, their sixth of the young WNBA season against only one loss. Although it came against the struggling Phoenix Mercury, the win wasn’t nearly as easy as the final score might suggest as the Sparks at times struggled to put away their depleted western conference rivals.
Sparks veteran DeLisha Milton-Jones, playing like it’s 1999, had 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor.
But it was the play of Parker and Ogwumike, finally and, at times, beautifully working together, that may keep fans and coaches of around the WNBA up at night.
“Any time you’ve [got] talented and competitive people, good things are going to happen,” said Sparks’ head coach Carol Ross about her two young stars’ play together. “They’re doing it consistently.”
“We did a really good job of finding each other today,” said Ogwumike. “Running the ball, trying to get shots, fast break points.”
Milton-Jones has been most impressed with the changes she sees on the Sparks. “There’s a different energy… a different type of identity,” the two-time WNBA champion said. “Our intensity level on the defensive end is more consistent and, as a result, we win games.”