L.A. Gives West A Spark
UNCASVILLE, Conn -- They may be 3,000 miles away from Hollywood, but it was a duo of superstars from Los Angeles that stole the show amidst the WNBA’s best and brightest.
L.A.’s Candace Parker was voted the 2013 Boost Mobile All-Star Game MVP after scoring an All-Star Game record 23 points, and her teammate Kristi Toliver poured in 21 of her own, including 19 in the second half, to lead the West to a 102-98 win over the East on Saturday.
Despite the West featuring not only four players from the Minnesota Lynx, but Minnesota’s coaching staff, it was actually their rivals the Sparks -- which also saw Nneka Ogwumike contribute with six points and four rebounds -- that dominated the action.
In addition to scoring 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting, Parker also grabbed 11 rebounds and treated the fans with several highlight finishes at the rim.
“I see that stuff all the time,” Toliver said of Parker’s acrobatics. “She even does it in the game.”
In one of the weekend’s most surprising fun facts, this was actually Parker’s first time playing in an All-Star Game. The former No. 1 overall pick was voted a starter for the 2011 game, but had to sit out because of a knee injury. She also could not participate in 2009 after the birth of her daughter.
After the game, Parker admitted that the 2011 All-Star Game was the hardest for her to miss.
“It’s kind of the situation where I was sitting on the couch, I remember, with my leg up because I had just got hurt, I think either about to have surgery or something,” Parker said. “So it did hurt and that was the one where, I remember, they were naming the top 15 players of all time. I remember sitting there and I teared up. I got upset because, you know, you want to be there, you want to be involved, you want to play and it hurt.”
With a performance like she delivered on Sunday, it’s safe to say that Parker righted some of those demons at Mohegan Sun.
For a stretch in the second half, however, it was Toliver’s show. The 5-foot-7 guard -- who Parker said is “one of the best shooters ever” -- hit three 3-pointers after the break and finished 8-for-13 from the floor.
On a team full of prolific scorers, Augustus included, the West, which was down by six at halftime, pointed to Toliver’s shooting range as they key to a comeback.
“Coach put in that group and out of everyone on there, she’s probably the most lethal shooter on the team,” said Augustus of her rival turned teammate. “We wanted to try to get back in the game and giving her that option to shoot was the best way to get back in the game.”
Toliver’s shooting is again going to be vital -- this time for L.A. -- if the Sparks, who are currently 2.5 games behind the Lynx in the West, hope to keep pace. Performances like these on this stage can help the Sparks, as Toliver put it, “get our swag back.”
“I really enjoyed just being able to represent L.A. well,” Parker said. “We had three All-Stars and being able to share that with Nneka and being able to share that with Kristi. Kristi played phenomenal, Nneka played phenomenal, so I think we represented L.A. well.”
The Sparks tips off their off their second half in less than a week. Their second act begins then.