LOS ANGELES — The Sparks are finally back on the winning track. After losing 8 straight games (which really is a lot of games considering the WNBA season is 40 games long), the Sparks were able to edge out the Indiana Fever on Tuesday after a late, heroic three-pointer by Jordin Canada with 3.2 seconds left.
It took a lot to get that first win in 30 days for the Sparks. Nneka Ogwumike scored a season-best 30 points. Canada had a 20-point, 10-assist effort. And Azura Stevens went for 15 points, 6 boards, and three blocks while playing some physical defense against Aliyah Boston.
Coach Curt Miller talked about how Boston gets a lot more space in the pros than in college. Well, Miller made sure she didn’t have that as he sent multiple defenders and the kitchen sink towards the #1 overall pick of this year’s draft. At times, it seemed to discourage the Fever into getting the ball to Boston. Victoria Vivians ended up handling the scoring early as she tied a season-best 17 points. Kelsey Mitchell also took advantage of the paint being congested as she scored 19 points to lead the team. Erica Wheeler had 15 points and 8 assists herself.
The Sparks will play more of the same from Tuesday. Aliyah Boston got in foul trouble in that game so they’ll likely continue to play physical. They’ll try to match them up in the paint once again. While Nneka put up 24 shots (also a season-high), she’s not the type to go out of her way to do that; she’ll do it when the situation calls for it. The physical play by the Sparks enabled for them to go to the line late and getting those free throws helped them erase a late 5-point deficit.
The Sparks also seem to have the worst timing. They’ll go on offensive droughts and turn the ball over at the most inopportune times. They had an 11-point lead on Tuesday night before the Fever erased it and took the lead before the third quarter ended. The Sparks have done this quite a bit over the season but we also know that they’re capable of getting stops when they needed to. Vivians missed a three-pointer late which set the stage for the Canada game-winner. We know the Sparks are capable of playing very good defense so hopefully, we’ll see a lot more of that in this rematch against Indiana.
As for the injury report, Lexie Brown will not play on Thursday afternoon as she continues to battle the non-COVID illness that took her out for a few weeks. The Sparks injury/illness bug continues to ravage the team; we just hope Lexie (as well as the rest of the ladies, for that matter) get healthier sooner than later.
Let’s see if the Sparks go 2-0 against the Fever. It would certainly help soothe that long losing streak the Sparks just went through.