LOS ANGELES — Brittney Sykes’s eyes widened as she focused on the stats sheet.
“Oh, she had a triple-double,” the Sparks guard told herself as she checked Candace Parker’s stats at the post-game press conference.
“Candace is going to do what Candace does,” Sykes said after collecting her thoughts and calling her former teammate a “human 2K player”.
In the Chicago Sky’s 82-59 win, the longtime WNBA All-Star finished with a 10-point triple-double, 14 rebounds and 10 assists against her former team.
She is the first WNBA player to have three triple-doubles in her career, and it comes on the heels of her attempt of 17 points and 10 rebounds in their comeback win against the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday. Sheryl Swoopes, Courtney Vandersloot and Sabrina Ionescu are the only other WNBA players to have two triple-doubles in their careers.
It was also Parker’s first time playing in LA since signing with Chicago for the 2021 season, leading them to the WNBA title. Watching the Crypto.com Arena at home on Thursday night — though she said she still sees it as Staples Center — cut through the Sparks’ defense with ease.
She — who also moved up to fifth in league history for blocked shots (588) and eighth for assists (1495) — received a thunderous round of applause during the introduction as players and fans shot across the stands to the tunnel for a catch a glimpse of her after the match.
“It was difficult to go left on the second turn instead of the first to go into the locker room,” Parker said. “My teammates ask me where I normally sit and I was like, I’ve never been to this side of the dressing room. I love the franchise, the city and what we’ve been able to do in this building.”
Parker’s putback basket gave Sky (12-5) an 11-4 lead in the first quarter, then the Sparks’ Katie Lou Samuelson scored a 3-pointer to make it 11-7, the closest the Sparks would get in the first quarter. rest of the night.
Ambivalence enveloped the game as the warm and fuzzy feelings surrounding Parker’s return contrasted with defensive frustration for the Sparks (6-10).
“(Parker) had the ball for most of tonight,” Sykes said. “I’m pretty sure that was probably a plan, because we’re pressuring guards. So why wouldn’t an attacker bring it up?”
Sparks All-Star Nneka Ogwumike, who had a team-high 15 points on 7-for-17 shooting, came alive in the second quarter and rushed his way into back-to-back baskets early on the Sparks in 29-19 in the period. A minute later, Parker fought for a rebound and Azura passed Stevens to continue the Chicago charge.
By halftime, the Sky had opened a 54-25 lead, surpassing the Sparks 29-17.
“We have glimpses and we have quarters,” Sykes said of her team’s defense, “but we’re just trying to get to a place where we get all four quarters and we don’t have accidents like we had tonight.”
Allie Quigley gave Parker an assist for an alley-oop with 2:30 to go in the third quarter, silencing the crowd that welcomed her earlier. Jordin Canada made consecutive shots with 17 seconds left in the quarter, but Parker drove in for a layup with five seconds left and Chicago was still 24 points ahead after three quarters.
The Sparks, who survived the Sky last month for a season-opening 98-91 win in Chicago, beat the visitors 12-11 in Thursday’s fourth quarter, while Chicago Parker rested and walked to a win.
Sykes had 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting, and Samuelson had eight points. Liz Cambage played 16 minutes and scored six points.
Vandersloot and Stevens each scored 15 points for Chicago. Emma Meesseman added 11 points and Rebekah Gardner scored 10.
The Sparks now shift their focus to Saturday’s game against the Seattle Storm (11-6) as they are nearly halfway through the season.
“kudos to Chicago,” Sykes said. “But we have one more chance to play against them. They are coming back to our house. At the moment we have to put this one on the back burner.”
The Sparks’ Chiney Ogwumike was listed as absent for personal reasons on Thursday, also marking the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, the groundbreaking equality legislation that prohibits gender exclusion in sports.
She was still diligently working to showcase women’s basketball while helping to provide TV coverage of the NBA Draft.
“It’s huge for women’s basketball,” Sparks interim coach Fred Williams said. “When it’s on, the WNBA is on. When she speaks, she speaks to the world and millions of people who represent the Sparks, our league. I just love seeing that.”