The reigning WNBA champions led by as much as 21 point in their 99-89 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday. Before the game, the Los Angeles Sparks were presented with their championship rings.
“2016 was nothing short of amazing,” said Sparks guard Alana Beard. “We had a great season, had a decent record and we finished it off with a championship.”
This was the first game of the season for 2016 Finals MVP Candace Parker, Sixth Women of the Year Jantel Lavender and Essence Carson. The three players came from the Euroleage circuit, Parker and Lavender were teammates on the Fenerbahce women’s basketball team in Instanbul, Turkey. Lavender was the only player who decided to sit out the game.
“I’m excited to play with his group,” Parker said. “I’ve been waiting to get back on this team for a while since we ended in Minnesota, so if I’m healthy, I’m gonna play.”
WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike led the Los Angeles in scoring with 23 points. Parker led the team in rebounds with eight and put up 18 points.
“It’s like she didn’t miss a beat, just really impressed with her ability to play after a 15-hour plane ride, playing in a tough series two days ago and walking in today for shoot around and doing that,” said Sparks head coach Brian Agler.
Mystics center Elena Delle Donne scored 27 points and Natasha Cloud led with eight assists. Former Sparks guard Kristi Toliver returned to the Staples Center as a member of Washington, scoring 15 points.
A key contributor of the night was first round draft pick Sydney Wiese, who dropped 22 points, making six of her eight three pointers.
“I covered her when I was commentating for Pac-12 and she was special then,” Parker said. “I knew she was gonna come in and be able to shoot the ball and that’s what we need.”
Los Angeles guard Odyssey Sims played for 20 minutes before sustaining an injury in the fourth quarter. She has been ruled day-to-day.
The Sparks now have a 2-0 record and will travel to battle against the Indiana Fever on Wednesday, May 24 at 7:00 PM EST.