By Mike Weilamann

May 17, 2008: Scoreboard | Video Play of the Day | Photo Gallery | Today in the WNBA Archive

Diana Taurasi proudly displays up her WNBA championship ring. The Mercury received their rings in front of the home crowd prior to Saturday's season opener against the Sparks. Taurasi scored 24 points, but Phoenix lost the game 99-94.
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images
Parker 'Sparks' L.A. Past Defending Champions

Rookie Establishes New League Debut Points Record: One of the newest and soon-to-be greatest faces of the WNBA made a stirring debut on Saturday. Candace Parker, one of the most touted rookies and the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick in April, did not disappoint as she posted a double-double to help the Sparks knock off the defending champion Mercury. Parker posted a game-high 34 points, the most ever in a debut, to go with 12 rebounds and eight assists as Los Angeles earned its first win of the season. The previous high in a WNBA debut was 25 points by Cynthia Cooper in 1997. Parker, who made 6-of-7 shots in the final quarter, hit a short hook shot to put the Sparks up 97-94 with 12 seconds to go. We can expect more of the same from Parker and the Sparks, who are picked by many to wrestle the championship away from the Mercury. They’re certainly off and running.

Douglas Makes Triumphant Return to Indiana: You have to figure the Fever got exactly what they expected when they traded for Katie Douglas in the offseason. The former Purdue All-American posted a franchise debut record of 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go with seven rebounds as Indiana rolled past Washington on Saturday. It was the Fever’s fifth straight opening-day win as they improved to 7-2 overall in openers. Douglas, a lethal left-hander, hit shots from all over the floor in a sparking debut performance. Los Angeles sports Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie, but Indiana has a fine tandem as well with Douglas and six-time All-Star Tamika Catchings, who missed the opener following offseason Achilles surgery and is out indefinitely. Click here for an update on her progress. The Mystics played without three-time All-Star Alana Beard, who had surgery in September to repair a torn labrum. She is expected to miss at least the first two games. Tamika Whitmore, who the Fever traded for Douglas, had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Sun's win over the first-year Dream.
"She was great, but coming from Tennessee, we knew she was used to playing at a high level.''

-- The Shock's Katie Smith, on the record-setting performance by teammate Alexis Hornbuckle, who had a franchise rookie record seven steals to help lead Detroit to an easy 85-66 victory over the Comets in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.

Candace Parker, Sparks
34 pts, 12-19 FG, 2-2 3-pt FG
99-94 win at Mercury

Katie Douglas, Fever
24 pts, 8-16 FG, 3-7 3-pt FG, 5-5 FT
64-53 win vs. Mystics

Katie Smith, Shock
21 pts, 7-16 FG, 5-10 3-pt FG, 2-2 FT
85-66 win vs. Comets

Becky Hammon, Silver Stars
4-19 FG, 3-11 3-pt FG, 11 pts
73-64 loss at Monarchs

Cheryl Ford, Shock
2-8 FG, 7 pts
85-66 win vs. Comets

Ivory Latta, Dream
1-5 FG, 5 pts
100-68 loss at Sun

Sunday's Games ...

  • Sun at Liberty, 4 p.m. ET
  • Shock at Lynx, 6 p.m. ET
  • Whitmore

    Candace Parker wasn’t the only former Tennessee star to make an impact in her first game. Alexis Hornbuckle, who was Parker’s teammate on the Volunteers’ national championship team this past collegiate season, set a franchise record with seven steals to go with her eight points in Detroit’s win over Houston. Hornbuckle saw extended action in this one as Deanna Nolan was limited with a sore ankle. Matee Ajavon posted 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in the loss for the Comets. … Sylvia Fowles had six points, seven rebounds and four blocks, but the Sky came up short against the Storm.
    Lisa Leslie looked like she never really left on Saturday. After taking last year off on maternity leave, Leslie didn’t miss a beat in the Sparks’ big season-opening win over the defending champion Mercury. The former USC star and WNBA MVP posted 17 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, four blocks and two assists in L.A.’s win. Leslie and Candace Parker, who posted 34 points in her sparkling debut, make quite a nice tandem. Prior to the game, Phoenix received its championship rings. If Leslie and Parker keep playing the way they did Saturday, they may get some jewelry of their own in the near future.