Sparks fall short again to New York Liberty, 76-69

The Sparks kept it close but fell to the New York Liberty, 76-69.

LOS ANGELES — Right now, it’s all about the fight.

Not the desired result once again for the Sparks. But they battled the Liberty the entire time; they just fell short to New York for the second straight game, 76-69.

This time around, the Sparks got off to a much better start than their embarrassing one on Sunday. The Liberty did go to the three-pointer but they built an apartment instead, making 2 for 11 in the first 10 minutes. At the end of the first quarter, the Sparks actually led New York, 19-14.

Jonquel Jones brought the strength in the second quarter and the Liberty kept firing from the perimeter. Back-to-back threes by Courtney Vandersloot and Breanna Stewart gave New York the lead. But Jordin Canada continued her great play and helped give the lead back to Los Angeles. Sparks led, 34-32, at the half.

In the third, Nneka Ogwumike got going. The teams did shoot better and traded baskets for the most part. Courtney Vandersloot made some big buckets for New York but Los Angeles still kept the lead going into the fourth, 54-50.

The fourth quarter was close for the most part. The game was tied at 67 with two minutes left. But Betnijah Laney made a putback lay-up, which was followed by a lay-up by Vandersloot, who had been huge all game. The Sparks couldn’t make a basket and when they had another chance to cut the deficit down, Jordin Canada’s crosscourt pass sailed out of bounds. The Liberty held on for a second straight win against the Sparks.

The Sparks did their best to muck it up. A combination of intense defense by the Sparks and the Liberty not making their threes (8 for 33, .242). But the Sparks didn’t have enough juice on the offense. And this is how deep this Liberty team is: Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu didn’t have great offensive games but Courtney Vandersloot was Sub-Zero cold on Tuesday night. More on her statistics later but she came through when the Liberty needed some gas in their tank.

Nevertheless, head coach Curt Miller was proud of their fight tonight. They showed a lot more energy in Tuesday’s game than Sunday’s, which threatened a blowout.

Nneka Ogwumike did have another career milestone as she passed Candace Parker for second place for most points in Sparks franchise history.

She is 573 points away from passing Lisa Leslie for first place. I asked her about the achievement.

If she consistently averages around 18-20 points per and stays in a Sparks uni, Nneka can definitely pass the great Lisa Leslie for next season.

But for now, the Sparks have lost two straight. It’s tough to go against a loaded team like the Liberty, especially with a team that continues to be ravaged with injuries.

Nneka led the Sparks with 20 points and 8 boards. Jordin Canada was second in scoring with 13 points but missed 15 of her 19 shots on the field. As for the Liberty, Courtney Vandersloot turned in a virtuoso performance with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Breanna Stewart had a double-double with 16 points and 12 boards.

The Sparks will now travel to the nation’s capital for two games against the Mystics. And they’ll top off the road trip with another date with the Fever. Maybe they’ll get some momentum away from home as they try valiantly to make a run for the playoffs.