Candace Parker out again as Sky drops seventh straightSun-Times wireson June 6, 2021 at 12:20 am

The Sky’s Diamond DeShields (left) passes around two Sparks players Saturday in Los Angeles. | Amber Del Rio/Chicago Sky

Erica Wheeler scored a season-high 22 points while Amanda Zahui B added 13 points and 10 rebounds to help the Sparks win 68-63.

LOS ANGELES — Erica Wheeler scored a season-high 22 points, Amanda Zahui B added 13 points to go with 10 rebounds and the Sparks handed the Sky their seventh loss in a row with a 68-63 victory Saturday.

The Sky (2-7) again played without star forward Candace Parker (ankle), who signed a two-year contract with them as a free agent during the offseason after spending her first 13 seasons with the Sparks and helping them win the WNBA title in 2016. The Sparks honored Parker with a tribute video of her highlights with the team between the first and second quarters.

‘‘We have some stuff we have to correct,’’ said Sky coach James Wade, who indicated he hoped Parker would return for the Sky’s game Wednesday against the Fever at Wintrust Arena. ‘‘We have to play better basketball at the beginning of the game and have a sense of urgency. It’s not that we lost seven in a row, but we lost [the last] four in the same way. We just have to keep pushing through, and we will. We will. We’ll be OK.’’

After Zahui B tied the score at 57 with a running layup with 4:57 left, Nia Coffey made a driving layup with 4:13 to play to give the Sparks the lead for good.

Wheeler then scored six points in the final 80 seconds on a layup, a pull-up jumper and two free throws. The last of those points came with 30.1 seconds left and gave the Sparks a 67-61 lead.

Te’a Cooper also scored 13 points, and Coffey chipped in 10 to go with nine rebounds for the Sparks, who won despite shooting 37% overall and 16% from three-point range.

Kahleah Copper scored 15 points, Ruthy Hebard 14 and Diamond DeShields 10 for the Sky, who shot 34% overall and 28% from three-point range.

‘‘I just think we’ve gotta find it,’’ Copper said when she was asked about the attitude in the locker room. ‘‘We’ve just gotta dig deep and start pulling these wins out. Down the stretch, we’ve just gotta be tougher and gut these wins out. We’ve gotta play to win. We’ve gotta get going again.’’

When it was pointed out she led the Sky in scoring and grabbed seven rebounds, as well, Copper dismissed the accolades.

‘‘For me, it’s not a good day unless we win, so it was not a good one,’’ she said.

Hebard said the Sky isn’t overly concerned about their slow start.

‘‘We know we’re a good team,’’ she said. ‘‘We know we have it in us. Every day, just keep going.’’

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