Sparks finish road trip with win over Indiana Fever

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sparks sweep three-game season series against the Indiana Fever.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Sparks have won their second straight game as they defeated the Indiana Fever for the third time this season. They completed the season sweep with the final score of 87-80.

It looked great for the Sparks early as they got off to a 10-2 start. But then the Fever found Aliyah Boston on single coverage and they went to her over and over. She was perfect from the field in the first quarter. It was a high-scoring affair in the first quarter with a 27-23 Fever lead.

The Sparks went one for their first 12 shots in the second quarter and Grace Berger’s hot shooting put the Fever up 9. But then Los Angeles caught fire and made their next five shots. Some timely three-point shooting and free throws got L.A. back in the game and they were only trailing by one, 41-40, by the halftime break.

After the Sparks took the lead back, the Fever roared back with 9 straight points. But L.A. has been more resilient recently and an Evina Westbrook (who recently signed a second 7-day hardship deal) three gave the lead back to the Sparks. Aliyah Boston scored four in a row before Azura Stevens got fouled on a jumper before the buzzer. The Fever led, 58-57, entering the fourth.

A Kelsey Mitchell three gave Indy a 69-61 lead. But then back-to-back threes by Layshia Clarendon and Karlie Samuelson kicked off a huge 18-4 run, which was topped off by another three by Jasmine Thomas. And with L.A. clinging to a 79-76 lead, Thomas had her short jumper packed. Then she got her own rebound and flung another jumper that beat the shot clock.

That was pretty much the game. Indiana played the foul game unsuccessfully and the Sparks held on for their second win.

For the second game in a row, L.A. scored 30 points in the fourth quarter. But the main culprit for this game was turnovers. The Fever had 21 giveaways that led to 24 Sparks points. Los Angeles only had 9 turnovers, which led to 11 Indiana points. Head coach Curt Miller admitted that the Fever outshot (.469 to .403) and outrebounded (39-31) the Sparks. But the harassing defense led to extra possessions for the Sparks and that was the key to their win.

Nneka Ogwumike got her 98th career double-double with 20 points and 11 boards. Layshia Clarendon scored a season-best 17 points (who joked in the postgame presser that she’ll shoot until her arm falls off). Karlie Samuelson put in 13 points. The Sparks going small won’t go unnoticed; Jasmine Thomas scored 5 clutch points for them late and Evina Westbrook made a big three and played physical defense.

Kelsey Mitchell led the Fever with 21 points. After a fast start, Aliyah Boston ended with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Their other rookie, Grace Berger, had an outstanding game with 14 points.

The Sparks don’t play until Saturday when they defend their home court against the Atlanta Dream. But the Sparks will get some much-needed rest after playing three road games in five nights. And maybe they can continue their momentum back in Los Angeles.