Candace Parker returned home to bring Chicago a championship and she did just that, leading the Sky to the franchise’s first title, with an 80-74 victory over Phoenix Mercury in game four.
- Candace Parker returned home to Chicago this season after spending 13 years with Los Angeles
- Parker proudly acknowledged that the Sky are “champions for life now”
- Chicago guard Kahleah Copper earned MVP honors of the championship
Allie Quigley scored 26 points and Parker added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
“We were down nine, down 11 and we stayed with it,” Parker said.
“So proud of this group. Sloot (Courtney Vandersloot) doing what she does all year … Allie [she was] amazing.”
Vandersloot added 10 points and 15 assists for the Sky, who won the series 3-1, rallying from a 72-65 deficit with just under five minutes left.
Chicago scored the next nine points to take a two-point lead on Stefanie Dolson’s layup. She then added another basket to make it 76-72 with 45.8 seconds left.
Mercury’s Diana Taurasi was fouled on the next possession, shooting a three-pointer and made the first two free throws, but missed the third.
Vandersloot then scored in the lane to seal the victory, setting off the celebration.
As the final buzzer sounded, Parker sprinted to the corner of the court and hugged her family with tears in her eyes.
“Their defence went to another level trapping BG (Brittney Griner),” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said.
“We got some good looks, layups — we missed them and they made them.
“Allie really changed the momentum of the game there.”
Quigley, who also hails from Illinois, got the decisive run started and Parker tied the game with a three-pointer before Dolson’s baskets.
It was a full-circle moment for Parker, who triumphantly returned home to Chicago this season after spending 13 years with Los Angeles.
Parker has been continually called the Sky’s missing piece throughout the playoffs, a label she proved accurate many times during Chicago’s stunning run, winning the title as a six-seed.
“It feels amazing. My high school coach is here. I know Pat’s (Summitt) watching.” Parker said.
Griner was a focal point of Phoenix’s offence early on. The seven-time All-Star finished the game with 28 points, 18 of which came in the first half.
Along with guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, Griner helped lead a 9-0 run to finish the second quarter and give Phoenix a 44-37 edge at half time.
Parker initially had trouble getting into a rhythm offensively, going one for six from the floor with just four points by the end of the first half.
Kahleah Copper, who had been a force in the first four games of the finals, earned MVP honours of the championship.