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Clark makes clutch threes as Fever take down Sparks in L.A.

Henry Tran-The Sporting Tribune
Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever get their first win at the expense of the Sparks in front of a record crowd at Crypto Arena.

LOS ANGELES — It didn’t show until the closing minutes but this was why Caitlin Clark was box office.

Clark had been missing from behind the arc all game. Then she made a 33-footer to electrify the Crypto.Com Arena crowd. She followed it up with another clutch three from 28 feet. That last shot put the Fever up five as Indiana went on to get their first win of the season after defeating Los Angeles, 78-73.

The Sparks (1-3) led by as many as 11 points when they were up, 45-34, at halftime. But as the team is known to do, L.A. didn’t score for the first four minutes as Indiana (1-5) scored 11 in a row themselves. The Fever outscored the Sparks, 19-11, in the third period.

Kelsey Mitchell got hot as she scored 13 of her 18 points in the fourth. That set the stage for Clark, who hadn’t shot well the whole game, to close it out.

This three-pointer put them up, 72-66:

And then the second one gave the Fever a 76-71 with 40 seconds left:

The Los Angeles crowd was hanging on Clark’s every move. The arena exploded on both clutch shots, making it seem like it was an Indiana Fever home game at times.

Curt Miller talked about the third quarter that set a bad tone for the Sparks:

“I just thought that third quarter really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Miller said. “We got outtoughed at both ends of the court, on the glass, and it contributed to 13 second half turnovers, which has been our Achilles’ heel.”

The Sparks turned the ball over 18 times compared to the Fever’s 10.

Forward Dearica Hamby, who only scored two of her 18 points in the second half, felt much of the same way in terms of being lackluster after halftime.

“I think we showed our vulnerability to our youth,” Hamby said. “Lacked a little bit of composure. Kind of going away from the things that was working in the first half and we let the frustration of not being able to score dictate our defense.”

Hamby was asked on what positives she could take away from this game.

“We shot well from the free throw line,” Hamby quipped. The Sparks did go 18 for 21 (.857) from the line while the Fever went 13 for 17 (.765).

“But every game is an opportunity to learn,” Hamby continued. “We’re hanging our heads a little bit right now but the league moves fast. We have another game in a day and a half. Quick memory. Gotta forget it.”

Hamby led the Sparks with 18 points and 12 rebounds while rookie Rickea Jackson scored a season-best 16 points. Cameron Brink got in foul trouble again but she did finish with 15 points and 9 boards.

Kelsey Mitchell led the Fever with 18 points. Temi Fagbenle came off the bench to score 11 of her 17 points in the third. Aliyah Boston also scored 17 points to get out of a slump.

As for Caitlin Clark? Not the greatest in terms of shooting (missed her first seven three-pointers) but she was two assists shy of a triple-double (11-10-8). And she saved her best for last.

People talked about the Caitlin Clark Effect. Well, how’s this for affecting Los Angeles?

Hamby mentioned that the league moves on. The Sparks will face the Dallas Wings on Sunday night as they try to forget this loss.

And Clark and the Fever will remember this Friday forever.