Parker Scores Record 23 To Lead West Over East
UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Candace Parker put on a show in her All-Star debut.
Parker scored a record 23 points to lead the West to a 102-98 victory over the East on Saturday.
"I didn't know what to expect," Parker said. "I hadn't been to one, and this was really special. Being with all these great players and share stories, that's why I'll remember from this All-Star game more than what happened on the court."
The Los Angeles Sparks star was voted a starter for the 2011 game, but couldn't play because of a knee injury. She also missed the 2009 game because she was still recovering from the birth of her daughter.
The wait was worth it as Parker, who earned the game's MVP honors.
Parker's stellar game helped the league overcome the loss of Brittney Griner and top vote-getter Elena Delle Donne, who sat out because of injuries. The pair have been an attendance and ratings boon for the league.
Griner has missed Phoenix's last five games with a sprained left knee and Delle Donne suffered a concussion in Chicago's game Wednesday. They were poised to make history as the first pair of rookies from the same class to start the WNBA All-Star game.
With her team trailing by 11 early in the third quarter, Parker scored seven straight points. After the foul by Tamika Catchings, Parker flexed her muscles and used a nifty stutter-step from the wing for an easy layup. Parker finished off her run with another lay-in.
After Sparks teammate Kristi Toliver hit back-to-back 3-pointers to the tie game, Ivory Latta hit her own 3-pointers to give the East an 81-74 advantage heading into the final period.
Parker, who finished with 11 rebounds, and Toliver wouldn't let the West lose for the fourth time in the past five All-Star games. Parker broke Swin Cash's All-Star game record of 22 points with a layup midway through the fourth quarter.
Trailing 100-98 with 30 seconds left, the East had a chance to take the lead, but Cappie Pondexter missed a 3-pointer. Parker got the rebound and Toliver sealed the win by hitting two free throws.
The game also featured the return of referee cam, with Lamont Simpson wearing a device that looks like a pair of glasses. The veteran official caught a pre-game dance off between the East and West. Minnesota's Maya Moore floored the sell-out crowd by breaking out the old-school dance move the worm. She repeated the move when she was introduced as a starter.
In another first, the game was coached by two women for the only time in its 11-year history. Lin Dunn of Indiana coached the East and Cheryl Reeve of Minnesota was in charge of the West.
Minnesota point guard Lindsay Whalen was the first sub in for the West, replacing Taurasi. That produced four Lynx players, who also were on the 2011 All-Star team, on the court at the same time.
The four Lynx stars combined for 24 of the West's 29 points in the first quarter.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.