By Special to the Daily World
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Angel McCoughtry scored 23 points and the Atlanta Dream ruined Candace Parker’s return to the Sparks with an 84-79 win over Los Angeles on Aug. 16.
Parker had 15 points and 10 rebounds before being ejected from the game with three-tenths of a second remaining for arguing a perceived non-call during a frantic scramble for a loose ball on the Sparks’ final possession.
It was Parker’s first game back since tearing the lateral meniscus in her right knee on June 26.
“I shouldn’t have acted like that,” Parker said. “I apologized to my team. I apologize to the fans. It was the heat of the moment. I thought a call should have gone a certain way. It didn’t, and I lost control.”
The sequence began when McCoughtry scored on a drive for an 81-79 Atlanta lead. On the next possession, Lacy was tied up on a drive to the basket and officials called a jump ball.
Sparks coach Joe Bryant said he didn’t blame the officials but said the referees initially ruled a foul on Lacy’s drive.
“I might get fined for this,” Bryant said. “The worst thing about it – they’ll come tomorrow and look at the film and say, ‘You were right.’ “
The Sparks again gained possession but DeLisha-Milton Jones and Natasha Lacy missed three-pointers. Parker then thought she was fouled as she went for the loose ball.
“It’s just a heat of the moment thing,” McCoughtry said. “Candace was fighting for her team. She has a right to fight for her team. She’s the leader. I don’t think she should have got kicked out.”
Erika de Souza added 18 points for Atlanta (12-12), which won for the ninth time in 12 games and moved to .500 for the first time this season.
Jones scored 19 points and Lacy added 11 for the Sparks (9-14), who missed two field goals in the final 30 seconds.
Parker was averaging 17.7 points and 9.9 rebounds when she was hurt. The Sparks went 5-10 without her.
“It’s a whole different team with her coming back,” McCoughtry said. “I’m just proud of the girls because we had a rough third quarter.”