by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
LONG BEACH, CA – The Los Angeles Sparks were hoping a return to L.A. would help shift this series back into their favor after getting beaten handily in the first two games in Connecticut by the Sun.
However, Game 3 of this WNBA semifinal series was not played in the comfy confines of Staples Center due to the Emmy Awards taking place at the Microsoft Theater. Instead, the game was held at the Pyramid at Long Beach State. Not even that venue could help save the Sparks’ season as they were routed 78-56 in a three-game sweep against the more dominant Sun. The Sun advance to the WNBA Finals for first time since 2005.
Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 17 points and 6 rebounds despite battling a fever the night before the game.
However, the Sparks got little else from their supporting cast as they shot 31 percent as a team.
That included Candace Parker who only played 11 minutes. She didn’t play in the second quarter and was taken out halfway through the third and never return. By that point, Connecticut was in complete control. Parker finished with four points on 2/6 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, and three turnovers.
Parker insisted she was fine physically and mentally, and thought the question about her low minutes should be addressed by head coach Derek Fisher. Fisher didn’t offer a clear explanation.
“It wasn’t an injury or any specific like ‘this is why I’m not going to play Candace,’” Fisher said. “Just trying to find energy, find a spark, find physicality and other things we were trying to search for throughout the game.”
The Sparks had no answer for the Sun’s backcourt duo of Jasmine Thomas and Courtney Williams.
Thomas put on a clinic scoring a game-high 29 points on an efficient 11/14 clip and Williams added 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
“I think when Jas is aggressive and she tries to score, it opens up everything for everybody, because you can’t guard all of us,” Williams said.