Sparks fall below .500 after 83-74 loss to the Sun

Sparks head coach Curt Miller lost in his first game against his former team.

LOS ANGELES — The Sparks grinded it out and kept it close. But once again, the game got away again as the Connecticut Sun defeated them, 83-74.

This was Coach Curt Miller’s first game against his former team. Jasmine Thomas was also playing her former team as well.

It started out pretty ugly as it took two minutes and change before Dearica Hamby made the first field goal for either team. She would end with 6 early points. The Sparks boosted the lead as Chiney Ogwumike was able to get the board and putback before the first quarter buzzer. Sparks led Connecticut, 19-15 after one.

Dijonai Carrington and Ty Harris scored quick baskets to tie the game up at 23. Then Alyssa Thomas made consecutive buckets (one from each hand) to make it an 8-0 run for Connecticut. But the Sparks grinded it out against them (as they usually do). They went on a 13-2 run (Karlie Samuelson had 7 points in that run) before DeWanna Bonner closed out the half and stopped the dry spell with a three-pointer. The Sparks led, 44-39, at the half.

The grind continued in the third quarter. In fact, we had a long period where the officials just let them play. Nneka Ogwumike went to work and scored 8 points in the third. But Natisha Hiedeman (who made her first bucket of the game) and DeWanna Bonner made a three from Long Beach as they tied the game up with the Sparks, 63-up.

But the fourth quarter failed the Sparks again. The game was tied at 74 before the Sun rang up 9 straight. Curt Miller got called for a technical foul with about 90 seconds left. The Sparks didn’t exactly have a big lead but either way, it’s a loss that put them below .500.

Despite the loss, Coach Miller seemed giddy after. He said it was a fun game.

He was asked about the technical foul and…

Nneka Ogwumike was told that it might be the best start in her career. She talked about that and reiterated her expectations going into this season.

Nneka was then asked what it would mean to be an all-star starter.

It’s another game that slipped away for the Sparks. As I said before, it seemed like the injuries have really caught up to the Sparks. Lexie Brown was missing yet again and they really needed her to space the floor as the Sun bogged down in the paint towards the end. And it definitely didn’t help that DeWanna Bonner had an incredible second half. Couple that with the strength of Brionna Jones inside and you have a very hard team to beat in the Sun.

Plus it was a very physical game. Sparks ended up with 18 turnovers while the Sun only had 15. Like I said, the Sparks seem to give away the ball at the most inopportune times and that’s usually the main culprit on why they can’t put the game away. But it’s a long season and hopefully, the Sparks get healthier sooner or later.

Nneka Ogwumike finished with 19 points, 15 boards, and 5 assists but it’s notable she only scored two points and grabbed no boards in the fourth. Jordin Canada finished with 14-5-5. Azura Stevens scored 12 as she started her third straight game. It was also notable that Destanni Henderson got to play a little bit; she scored two points in five minutes.

DeWanna Bonner scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half. Alyssa Thomas got off to a fast start and she finished with 16 points, four rebounds, 12 assists, and five steals. Brionna Jones finished with 17 points and 8 boards.

The Sparks come back to Crypto Dot Com Arena on Tuesday as they face the Minnesota Lynx for the third time. We know what happened the last time they were here and we know what happened in Minnesota. The Lynx have had their number this season. Hopefully, it’ll be a different result come Tuesday.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!