LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker was ejected for arguing with the referees at the end of the Sparks' 84-79 loss to the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Parker had 15 points and 10 rebounds in her first game back after missing the last seven weeks because of a torn lateral meniscus in her right knee, but her return ended on a sour note as she became visibly upset and gestured wildly at official Felicia Grinter after the referees didn't call a foul on a wild sequence near the end of the close game in which Parker believed both she and her teammates were fouled.
She was called for two technical fouls and ejected from the game with 0.3 seconds left. Dream forward Angel McCoughtry converted the technical foul shots to give the Dream a five-point win.
Afterward, Parker was contrite and said she wanted to apologize to the Sparks and their fans.
"Whatever was going on, I shouldn't have acted like that," she said. "I already apologized to my teammates. I want to apologize to the fans. I shouldn't have acted like that."
When asked whether her reaction came because it was her first game back after a seven-week layoff, she immediately dismissed the suggestion.
"No," Parker said. "It was just the heat of the moment. I thought a call should've gone a certain way, it didn't and I lost control."
Sparks coach Joe Bryant said he felt a foul should've been called on the play Parker was upset over, and a previous play in which officials called a jump ball when Sparks guard Natasha Lacy got tied up driving to the basket.
"She (Parker) deserved to be (angry)," Bryant said. "She was getting bumped, she was getting hacked and they (weren't) calling it. I think they sucked the whistle up at the wrong time."
Asked why Parker reacted so emotionally, Bryant shrugged and said: "I think some of that was she got fouled and they didn't treat her like a superstar. She got chopped around there a few times and they didn't call it."
This is the second time Parker has been ejected from a game. In July 2008, Parker and Detroit Shock forward Plenette Pierson were involved in a bench-clearing brawl. She was fined and suspended one game after the incident.
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.