Sparks 80, Sky 76
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The Los Angeles Sparks transferred their winning ways to their home court and the Chicago Sky again lost star rookie Elena Delle Donne to injury.
Candace Parker scored 18 points with seven rebounds and Kristi Toliver added 15 as the Sparks (17-7) won their fifth straight game, 80-76 over the East-leading Chicago Sky on Tuesday night. Los Angeles moved to a game behind first place Minnesota in the West.
Delle Donne, the league's fourth-leading scorer who was coming off a career-high 32-point game, did not play in the second half because of a left foot injury. Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said it wasn't broken.
''I didn't know what happened, but someone thought that I got my foot stepped on,'' said Delle Donne, who had nine points in 10:46 in her Los Angeles debut. ''It's just real tender and painful right now - non-weight bearing for a little bit. Hopefully tomorrow I can get some more answers.''
Delle Donne missed two games earlier this season because of a concussion.
''It's really frustrating to not be able to be out there with my teammates,'' she said.
Jantel Lavender contributed 10 points and seven rebounds in another strong performance as a reserve, and Alana Beard added 10 points. The win snapped a two-game home losing streak by the Sparks, who came off a 4-1 road trip.
''We knew that this is a game that we definitely needed,'' Parker said.
Parker was 7 for 12 from the field after a 2-for-11 performance the previous game. It was her third game back from a bone bruise in her wrist, and she played without a wrap on it.
''It's getting there,'' Parker said. ''I felt the ball a little bit better today and was able to really follow through on my shot, which is something that has been tough the last couple of weeks.''
Sylvia Fowles led the Sky (15-8) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Fowles scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and twice got Chicago to within two points, on a three-point play and a basket inside to make it 77-76.
After Nneka Ogwumike gave Los Angeles a 78-76 lead, the teams exchanged misses before Fowles was stripped by Lindsey Harding in the paint and Harding was fouled. Harding made the ensuing free throws and the Sparks held on. Chicago's final two possessions were misses.
''Even though I said it was an ugly win, I think that those last defensive possessions really did it for us,'' Lavender said. ''Just getting down and dirty, we really got the job done.''
Chicago entered the game ranked first in field-goal defense but allowed L.A. to shoot 52 percent. The Sparks converted seven of 12 field goals in the fourth quarter, although it was still undecided until the final minute.
''I expected it to be a heavyweight match - pound for pound, everybody throwing a punch here and there, key players stepping up, teams making runs, teams responding,'' Chatman said. ''But I felt that when we needed it the most, we weren't very good in our position defense.''
Chicago took its biggest lead at 53-44 on a 13-4 run in the third that was capped by Epiphanny Prince's 3-pointer. Swin Cash scored six points during the run.
The Sparks shot 47 percent and held the Sky to 32 percent shooting in a hard-fought first half that saw 15 lead changes as neither team led by more than two points. Lavender had 10 points and five rebounds in the first half, including a jump hook over Delle Donne, while Parker scored twice on left-hand finishes for 10 points and four rebounds.
Los Angeles committed 10 turnovers in the first half.
Delle Donne sank two 3-pointers in the first four minutes and had eight points in the first quarter.
Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala attended the game.