We all know that the Sparks have had such a hard-luck season. They are 7-14 and have lost their last 7 games.
There are some encouraging signs, though. After being down 20 early against the Lynx on Thursday, the Sparks actually came back and took a 7-point lead late in the game. Unfortunately, Napheesa Collier put the hurt on ’em as she led a 12-0 run against Los Angeles. The Sparks did have a chance to send it to extra innings (yes, I know that’s a baseball term; stay with me here) but Nneka Ogwumike’s three-pointer that would’ve tied it rimmed out. If the Sparks didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck.
Still, the Sparks got back two of their Opening Night starters on Thursday. Lexie Brown came off the bench and was a huge part of the Sparks attempted comeback as she scored 13 points. Layshia Clarendon got off to a fast start and ended with 11 points. The Sparks looked drastically different as they suddenly have options with more floor spreaders and versatile defenders. They did fall short against Minnesota but you’d rather have a team that can go 10-deep instead of just 8 (or even 7) players.
The L.A. Sparks draw the Dallas Wings on Saturday night. They’re actually the hottest team outside of the Las Vegas Aces (they’ve been winning everything) as they’ve won four in a row to bring their record up to 12-9 and their seeding to 4th place. When they have all-stars like Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally (as well as an experienced Natasha Howard), they’re a tough squad to go against.
The funny thing is that the Sparks have had their number this season. Los Angeles is 3-0 against Dallas in 2023. In fact, the last time the Sparks won a game was against the Wings. Nneka Ogwumike had 27 points and 12 boards that game. Jordin Canada had a season-high 9 assists while Karlie Samuelson had a career-best 14 points. We can’t forget Dearica Hamby having a huge game with 17 points and Destanni Henderson (who has since, unfortunately, had her hardship contract terminated) scored 9.
On June 14th, the Sparks defeated the Wings in Dallas by 18 points. And then on June 23rd, the Sparks came back from 17 down to defeat Dallas. It came to be known as the Destanni Henderson game as she scored 18 points in that come-from-behind victory. And that aforementioned last Sparks win was the one that made it 3-0 against the Wings.
In all three of those games, the Sparks made a conscious effort to hold Arike Ogunbowale down. She’s averaging 15.7 points (6.1 points below her season average) and shooting .347 (17 for 49) against Los Angeles. That seems to be the key to that. If they can do that for the fourth time, the Sparks have a pretty good chance of stopping that huge slide.
Still, the Wings are more than just Arike. We’ve mentioned her fellow all-star Satou Sabally. Natasha Howard is dangerous; she recently had 28 points against the Lynx. Teaira McCowan has had two double-doubles in that four-game winning streak. Crystal Dangerfield has exploded against L.A. And the Dallas Wings are one of two teams that have beaten the Aces.
Will Saturday night be the night that the Sparks finally get that elusive W and stop that four-game win streak by the Wings? Or will Dallas finally get that victory against the Sparks this season and, in the process, send them to their 8th straight loss? Because we all know that Los Angeles could use that spark for their season.
I am so sorry. Actually, no, I’m not. Either way, we’re going to see a streak stop on Saturday night.