LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sparks part owner Magic Johnson wasn’t on hand to see his new team win their first home game. But he would have been proud of the dominant third quarter by Candace Parker on Sunday.
Parker scored 23 points and Kristi Toliver added 15 as the Sparks beat the San Antonio Stars 83-62. Parker scored 12 of the Sparks’ first 15 points of the third quarter and the Sparks (2-1) avoided their worst start since they began 0-3 in 2010.
It was their first home win since they were purchased Feb. 5 by a group that is led by former NBA star Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers controlling owner Mark R. Walter. Johnson attended the home opener May 18, a loss to the Phoenix Mercury.
“It’s always exciting when you get a home win, and with this new ownership, I think it’s a testament to the change that we’re trying to make,” Nneka Ogwumike said. “We’re trying to identify ourselves as a stronger, kind of different team. New ownership is a wonderful act to follow, and also a wonderful organization to be within. Unfortunately, we lost when Magic was here last time, but I’m sure he’ll be at more games, and he’ll be able to see us play like we did today.”
Ogwumike returned from a lower back strain injury and scored 11 points with nine rebounds.
Jia Perkins led the Stars (2-2) with 17 points and Danielle Robinson, Becky Hammon and Kayla McBride each scored eight. San Antonio was going for its first three-game win streak since it won 12 in a row in 2012.
Parker’s 12-point third quarter included a fake-pass, left hand floater and a turnaround jumper, and Lavender stretched the lead to 15 points on a bank shot before San Antonio closed to 61-54 after the third quarter. Parker had six assists.
“It just comes with it,” Parker said of her third quarter. “As talented as our team is, I think I just look for what’s there. Whether it’s spread the floor or kick out or set good screens, it’s just being active, and I think that that’s what going to change from game to game is how aggressive I have to be. In the third quarter, I saw that I had to be a little bit more aggressive and take control a little bit more.”
Parker effectively sealed it with a 3-pointer from the right side to give the Sparks a 71-58 lead with 4:33 left. San Antonio did not get within a single-digit deficit the rest of the way.
Perkins made consecutive jumpers at the end of the third quarter and another to start the fourth but the Sparks ran off the next six baskets.
“I thought the energy we exerted to get back in it unfortunately left us a little bit (tired),” San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. “There’s going to be runs in the game, but we had to exert a lot of energy to get ourselves back into that game, and I think it showed up in the fourth quarter.”
San Antonio pulled to 41-38 at halftime after it erased a 16-point first quarter deficit. The Stars went on a 17-4 run, finished by McBride’s 3-pointer that gave San Antonio its first lead at 36-35. Hammon made back-to-back layups and McBride also scored on a jumper during the run.
Los Angeles got the lead back on Parker’s basket in the paint, and Ogwumike followed with a baseline jumper.
The Sparks took a 13-0 lead to start the game and pushed it to 23-7 on a basket by Parker. They made 12 of 19 field goal attempts in the first quarter for a 27-15 lead after San Antonio missed 11 of its first 13 shots.
Los Angeles guard Candice Wiggins sat out with a swollen knee.
The no-hitter thrown by Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett was announced in the third quarter. Ogwumike and Parker threw out the first pitch at a Dodger Stadium on May 14, a 13-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.
“I felt like we were bad-luck charms,” Ogwumike joked about their appearance.
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