UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Candace Parker had a blast in her All-Star Game debut.
Parker scored a record 23 points Saturday to lead the West to a 102-98 victory over the East and was honored as the game’s most valuable player.
The standout for the Los Angeles Sparks was voted a starter for the 2011 game, but she couldn’t play because of a knee injury. This time, she put on a show and made 10 of 13 shots.
Parker surpassed Swin Cash’s All-Star Game record of 22 points with a layup midway through the fourth quarter. Cash set the mark in 2009, when she was playing for the Storm.
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“It was a lot of fun to be with everybody,” said Parker, who also had 11 rebounds. “Everybody here is talented and capable of being an MVP.”
Rookies Brittney Griner of the West and top vote-getter Elena Delle Donne of the East sat out because of injuries, but there was plenty of talent on display in a game that featured a ref cam and in-huddle microphones.
Lamont Simpson’s ref cam caught a pregame dance-off between the teams. Minnesota’s Maya Moore, who played college basketball at Connecticut, delighted the crowd of 9,323 by breaking out an old-school move known as The Worm. She repeated the move when she was introduced as a starter.
Even though Griner and Delle Donne couldn’t play, the WNBA had seven other first-time All-Stars in the game. That didn’t include the 6-foot-4 Parker.
Despite joking before the game she was “too old” to dunk, the 27-year-old Parker threw down a few in warmups.
The game also served as a farewell for Tina Thompson, who made her record ninth All-Star appearance. The Storm forward has announced her retirement at the end of the season.
Thompson, 38, was an injury replacement for Griner and had a rough day. She missed all five of her shots from the field.
The West trailed by 11 points early in the third quarter and was down 58-52 before Parker took over. She scored seven of her team’s nine points to tie the score at 61 with 5:23 left in the quarter.
Shortly after Kristi Toliver of the Sparks made back-to-back three-pointers to tie the score again, Ivory Latta of the Washington Mystics made her own threes to help give the East an 81-74 advantage heading into the final quarter.
With the East leading 83-80, Parker and Toliver combined to score the West’s next dozen points for a 92-90 advantage.
Trailing 100-98, the East tried for the lead, but New York’s Cappie Pondexter missed a three-point try with 25 seconds left.
Parker got the rebound and Toliver closed out scoring on two free throws.
Toliver was 8 of 13 from the field and had 21 points.
Epiphanny Prince of Chicago and Latta scored 15 points each for the East.
The game was coached by two women for the only time in its 11 years. Ex-Storm coach Lin Dunn of Indiana coached the East and Cheryl Reeve of Minnesota was in charge of the West.