WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Los Angeles Sparks have lost three straight games and 11 of 13 overall. That third loss in a row happened on Friday at the hands of the Washington Mystics, 79-77.
The good news is that the Sparks (9-18) will get another shot at the same Mystics (13-13) team on Sunday afternoon. The Sparks hope to snap their losing streak then.
On Friday, the Sparks had another lackluster start and had to face an uphill climb the entire game. That gets tiring for any team and the Sparks ended up falling short. The Mystics play hellish defense and while the Sparks had a double-digit advantage on the boards, it felt like it played into the strategy of Washington as they were able to set their defense against the Los Angeles offense.
The Sparks took care of the ball in about the first third of the season. As of late, they’ve had quite a time giving the ball away and if they did have fewer turnovers, they would turn the ball over at the worst time of the game. That happened against D.C. when they had a chance to tie or take the lead. It led to a Tianna Hawkins lay-up that boosted the lead to four and helped Washington seal the game.
So it’s all about taking care of the ball for the Sparks; they definitely don’t want to turn it over 17 times again. That led to 20 Washington Mystic points. And as mentioned, it’s key for the Sparks to get off to a great start and not go through extended droughts.
It’s also about getting the 50-50 balls. We know Natasha Cloud, Brittney Sykes, and company will scrap for every ball. And with their stars still out, the Mystics have relied on scoring by committee. Tianna Hawkins led with 17 points on Friday. Queen Egbo came off the pine to score 15. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 11. Li Meng and Cloud each had 10.
Azura Stevens has been shooting it from three as of late; she’s 8 for 14 (.571) in her last three games. Nneka Ogwumike has been as consistent as it can be. Dearica Hamby and Zia Cooke both scored double-digits off the bench. They’re certainly capable of scoring; they just can’t go scoreless for minutes at a time.
The Sparks are looking to halt their three-game losing streak. The Mystics want to get above .500. We’ll see who will win the rematch on this Sunday matinee.