LOS ANGELES — This was probably the most complete game the Sparks have played this season. Los Angeles has made it five in a row as they blew out the Phoenix Mercury in Galen Center at the University od Southern California, 91-62.
The Sparks came out hot as the Mercury were clearly missing Brittney Griner and a late scratch in Diana Taurasi (who was out with a left toe). The Galen rims were super friendly to the Sparks in the first quarter as they made 13 for 17 shots (that is .765 to those that enjoy mathematics). Azura Stevens made all four of her attempts as the Sparks led, 30-15.
It slowed down for the Sparks in the second but they were still getting after it defensively. The Mercury played much better but they were only able to cut the deficit by one going into the second half, 44-30.
In the third quarter, Jordin Canada did this:
It was just honestly the Sparks’ night as the lead kept getting bigger and bigger. The Mercury really never had a chance as they were down by as many as 31 points. A few moments later, the Sparks had won their fifth straight game as their surge continues.
After the game, Coach Miller was asked about the defense being maximized.
The players (in this case, Azura Stevens and Karlie Samuelson) were asked what they could learn from a convincing win.
I asked Karlie Samuelson how she felt before the game as she had a career-best 15 points.
This was honestly as perfect as a start as they can get on what’s a pretty grueling schedule ahead. There aren’t any back-to-backs but they’re traveling cross country to Atlanta for a game on Friday night. They play every other game until the 31st. And they’ll have one more cross country trip after their game against Connecticut on Sunday.
The Mercury, as mentioned, were missing their best players in Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi. It surely didn’t help the Phoenix team. But we’d have more questions if the Sparks didn’t win this game. So Los Angeles took advantage and took care of business.
Sometimes, it’s about making shots and the Sparks did that. They went 10 for 17 (.588) from three while the Merc had trouble throwing a penny into the ocean (3 for 16, .188; I think I heard glass break). Overall, the Sparks shot .540, compared to .407 from Phoenix.
Azura Stevens dominated inside with 20 points. As mentioned, Karlie Samuelson had a career-high 15. 7 players scored 7 or more points and it was an easy night for Nneka Ogwumike (7 points, 5 assists), where she was not needed to do the heavy lifting. As for Phoenix, Sophie Cunningham did all she could with 16 points. Megan Gustafson scored 14.
The Sparks have to go East as they play the Dream in Atlanta on Friday night. Coach Curt Miller didn’t want to talk playoffs but it’s kind of hard not to the way they’ve been playing as of late. A win over Atlanta will be huge for the Sparks.
But for now, they’ll enjoy the 5-game win streak.