The Los Angeles Sparks are feeling it a little bit. They went through a back-to-back a few days ago and won both games. First, they defeated the Phoenix Mercury in a grueling overtime game. And on the next night, they withstood the fire of Jewell Loyd and defeated the Seattle Storm. The Sparks are now 3-2 overall.
And they might have to endure more of this firepower. The Seattle Storm get their rematch with the Sparks on Tuesday night. This time around, the scene is in Seattle.
But before we get to the preview, Azurá Stevens, who hasn’t played all year due to a bad back, has been activated for Tuesday’s game. Unfortunately, that ends Karlie Samuelson’s hardship deal. It’s a shame because Karlie is having her best season by far and has really helped the Sparks with her three-point shooting and perimeter defense. It’s also a little interesting that the Sparks have waived Joyner Holmes, who has given some good minutes off the bench. With Jasmine Thomas still out recovering from her ACL injury and Katie Lou Samuelson being out due to maternity leave, that puts the Sparks at 9 active players at the moment. So we’ll see how this situation fleshes out. (UPDATE: Karlie Samuelson has been re-signed for the rest of the season.)
Back to the game preview, I had mentioned Jewell Loyd. She scored 37 points off 8 for 12 shooting from three. She basically kept the Storm hanging around for the whole game. So it’s a given that the Sparks have to watch out for her.
Ezi Magbegor gave the Sparks problems early. She ended with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and three blocked shots. She also made a couple of threes as well. Magbegor is a versatile forward/center that can give problems inside and outside.
The Storm lead in three-point field goal percentage at .378. So they have to watch out for shooters outside of Loyd like Kia Nurse and Sami Whitcomb. Jade Melbourne also did a bit of damage in the second half on Saturday.
As for the Sparks, Nneka Ogwumike had a powerful game on Saturday with 27 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists. Layshia Clarendon scored a season-best 16 points and dished out 6 dimes. Chiney Ogwumike put in 15 and Lexie Brown scored 11 of her 14 points after halftime.
We’ve talked about their harassing defense, which sees them leading the league in forced turnovers and steals. Well, they’re actually humming on the offensive end as well as they are second in points and offensive rating (that’s 103.6 points per 100 possessions). The Sparks move the ball around quite a bit; they are currently second in assists as well. I just love the bounce passes and cuts the ladies do; it just makes for fun basketball. The Sparks may be a work in progress but, as Coach Curt Miller has mentioned, they may be way ahead of schedule.
And the Los Angeles Sparks can continue being ahead of schedule with another win over a Seattle Storm team that has yet to scratch. But the Storm are hungry for their first win and with Jewell Loyd, who Miller called “the best 2-guard in the world”, Seattle is always in the game. Every game is tough but this one might be especially tougher.