Postgame Notes: Los Angeles Sparks 81, Chicago Sky 72

June 17, 2018 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) - Chicago Sky News Release

TEAM SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS

SKY 81 3-7 FAULKNER (19) PARKER (10) VANDERSLOOT (7)

SPARKS 72 8-2 GRAY (21) OGWUMIKE/PARKER (11) GRAY (6)

SKY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Sky poured in 21 points in the first quarter. It was only the third time they have scored 20+ points in the opening quarter this season. Guard Jamierra Faulkner finished with a team-high 19 points, including scoring 13 in the fourth quarter in hopes of a Chicago comeback. Guard Courtney Vandersloot finished with a game-high seven assists to boast her league-leading average of 6.2 helpers per game. Forward Cheyenne Parker hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds, making it her third consecutive game leading the team in rebounding.

SPARKS HIGHLIGHTS:

Guard Chelsea Gray poured in a game-high 21 points, including scoring nine in the fourth quarter to help prevent a Sky comeback. Four of five starters scored in double-figures to go along with Gray's 21 points: forward Nneka Ogwumike (20), center Candace Parker (16) and guard Odyssey Sims (12). The Sparks had nine turnovers in the game, compared to forcing 13 by the Sky. Los Angeles forces the most turnovers by its opponents in the WNBA at 16.1 points a game. Los Angeles out-rebounded Chicago 41-32 overall and 13-5 on the offensive glass. The Sparks rank last in the WNBA in offensive rebounding.

POSTGAME QUOTES

SKY HEAD COACH AMBER STOCKS

( On energy in the arena)

"You saw some great basketball play on both ends, but especially with our team. They were moving the basketball, playing well together, attacking the rim, and what was most evident today was the energy and passion inside of the arena ignited by our entire team. Those sitting on the sidelines gave great energy and excitement to their teammates on the court, and that was contagious. And, we also felt the energy in the arena from all the fans, and that is powerful, and it really goes in to feed the runs and to charge some of those outstanding moments that you saw from our guys."

( On the Sky's fourth quarter run)

"There are some advantages to the youthful legs that some of these guys have, and Jamierra Faulkner led the way of kicking it to another gear with attacking the rim and getting to the paint. She's a tough matchup for a lot of players, but especially when the lane is open like that, and credit our great shooters for drawing the defense out and allowing the lane to be open. The fours and fives did a great job with setting screens and helping J (Jamierra Faulkner) get that edge, but our ability to attack the rim and get to the basket and then to get stops contributed significantly to that run."

( On Sparks offense & defense in the 2nd & 3rd quarter)

"More of it had to do with what we were doing offensively. And it was the turnovers. Our turnovers were contributing to fastbreak for the points for LA and they were converting those very easily. When we take care of the ball and maximize each possession, it allows us to play at a pace where we can manage the game well. We have smart guards handling the basketball and making great decisions, we just have to minimize those turnovers which will directly minimize the runs for the opponent."

SKY GUARD JAMIERRA FAULKNER

(On leading team with 19 points)

"The plan was to get to the rim from the beginning. So I guess I just stuck with the plan and it worked out. But we have to get stops, like coach was saying. They got up on us because we didn't get stops and turnovers. Towards the end of the game we started getting stops, we have to do that the whole 40 minutes."

SPARKS HEAD COACH BRIAN AGLER

(On the Sparks weathering the Sky's hot start)

"I didn't think we got off to a great start defensively. They came out ready to play. And it showed. They've got a good team. I know they're young, they're talented it takes some time when you've got a team like that. That little spurt from the first quarter and early in the second they played really well then our defense picked it up, we turned them over a little bit, got some steals, got some layups and easy baskets. Then it really helped our offense."

(On turnovers)

"Well we really preach try to be efficient at the offensive end, we want shots on goal. We feel like we can play really good defense if our defense gets set, but if we turn the ball over then we can't get set. I'm a true believer that your offense compliments your defense and your defense compliments your offense. If you get defensive stops you can play in transition. If your defense turns them over you can play in transition. And it is flip side, so if your offense scores and they have to take the ball out of bounds then you can get your defense set. So, those are the things we try to preach, real basic things."

(On 4 starters in double digits)

"[Chelsea and Nneka] are both really good players. We started the season this year missing some post players. That part of the season, offensively, Chelsea, Nneka and Odyssey [sort of] carried us. Not that Alana didn't do well, and Essence obviously played real well too. But, they showed a lot. And then we get Candace back in and Jantel, and as you get more depth, things start to balance out. What I saw today isn't abnormal for us. When you look at a box score and see that Chelsea is our third or fourth leading scorer, and [like] Nneka only had 11 points the other night, we had other ones scoring. We have pretty good balance and we were fortunate that those two had big games tonight

SPARKS FORWARD NNEKA OGWUMUKE

(On answering every run the Sky had)

"That was mostly our defense. I think we were really able to control the game with our tempo. We were able to play well in transition after that. We're very dangerous when Candace and Chelsea have the ball in the open court and I think we saw a lot of that."

(On being active on the offensive glass )

"Oh, it's huge. Second chance opportunities are major, especially with how evenly distributed the competition is this year. You have to be able to grind it out, and grinding it out means doing the small things like getting boards, and getting [a couple] stops in a row. I think we did a really good job of not only getting on the glass, but keeping the Sky off of it."

(On erupting after the early deficit)

"I think that we did a little bit of a better job defending in the quarter court, defending their executing plays. We were able to get a lot of deflections and stay very active on the strong side of the ball. I think that really helped with people knowing what they had to do on the weak side. Once you have good defense - you have good offense, whether its transition or even just setting up what you want to run. We executed down the stretch."

SPARKS CENTER CANDANCE PARKER

(On weathering Chicago's hot start)

"We knew Chicago was a good team. We knew they had rest and they were gonna come out and play well at the beginning. I think we focus more on ourselves and what we can do better and I think that's what helped us defensively. We weren't playing well and if we want our offense to play well and we want to play in transition and secondary then we have to get stops. And so, we started doing that in the second quarter."

(On the team only having nine turnovers)

"Wow. That's like a stat that is great. We've had a lot more turnovers than that in the past. I think that's a good thing limiting our turnovers and getting shots on goal, because if we can do that we have scorers in here... We look at turnovers you know, as not getting shots on goal, empty offense. I mean I don't even know what percentage we shot, but you know turning the ball over more than nine times percentage wise we probably wouldn't hit the shots. That's key for us."

(On Chicago being a young team )

"I think we approach them like everybody else. When you step on the floor it doesn't matter your experience. You know it matters how you play. We know Chicago's system a little bit because our assistant coach is the head coach. We've played against these players for many many years, watch these players play in college, played them a week ago. So, we know what they like to do and early on I think turning the ball over and not getting stops defensively so that hurt us."

(On the WNBA evolving during her career)

"I think athleticism, guard play, position-less basketball it is going that way. Where everybody can shoot, everybody can dribble, everybody can make plays and that is where the game is going. And it's exciting as a player to kind of see that transition."

NEXT GAME: The Sky travel to Washington to take on the Mystics on Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. (CT)

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