The Sky fell on the Sparks.
It was an offensive showcase for both teams in the first quarter as they all got them buckets. Nneka Ogwumike was having her way in the post. Marina Mabrey was hitting from the perimeter. The Sky were up, 23-21.
Chicago would end the first half with a flourish, though. Courtney Williams, Mabrey, and Kahleah Copper would make buckets to close the second quarter with a 11-3 run. Chicago was up, 43-38.
And it kept going after halftime. Elizabeth Williams would make three straight buckets. The run actually extended to 22-3 before Nneka finally shut it down with a lay-up. And then it was the Sparks’ turn to make a run as they scored 9 unanswered points. By the end of the third, it was a respectable 62-57 score as Chicago had the lead going into the fourth.
Then the Sky looked ready to put it away. They beat the Sparks with some backdoor cuts and some playmaking by Courtney Williams. The lead was up to 82-65 with under four minutes to go.
Still, the Sparks didn’t give up. Dearica Hamby made back-to-back lay-ups. Azurá Stevens made a couple of buckets and Rae Burrell made a three. L.A. scored 11 straight and cut the deficit down to two possessions (6 points). But Sky coach James Wade put the starters back in and Kahleah Copper made sure the Sparks comeback would be in vain. And the Sparks have now dropped two games in a row.
Jordin Canada landed on her left shoulder trying to make a play in the first half. She was then deemed out for the second half.
“It’s hard in this league when you have many people down,” commented Curt Miller about the multitude the injuries the Sparks have had.
It did open up more minutes for Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke, who had her best offensive game (despite the not-so-great shooting percentage) since the season opener. I asked Coach Miller about how she performed on Friday night.
“She gave us energy, she plays fearlessly, she made some critical defensive plays by just staying in place. She’s a competitor and I appreciate that,” answered Miller.
Azurá Stevens led the Sparks with 15 points while Nneka Ogwumike had 14 (only two in the second half). Dearica Hamby had a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards while Karlie Samuelson scored 11. The aforementioned Zia Cooke scored 10 points while also recording three blocks.
The entire starting five for the Sky scored in double figs. Alanna Smith led the Sky with 18 while Kahleah Copper had 17 points. Marina Mabrey had 15 while Elizabeth Williams had 12.
As for the other starter?
That’s right. Courtney Williams had the rare triple-double. She actually finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. She became the 12th player in history to record a triple-double in the WNBA and the second player this season. What a feat that was.
The Sparks did try to match the physicality by the Sky as they got to the line 23 times as opposed to the Sky’s 9 foul shots. They were even in paint scoring (44 points) but the timely runs by the Sky were too much for Los Angeles. Plus, Chicago shot much better from the field (.569 by the Sky to .418 by the Sparks).
Los Angeles has fallen to 7-9. They will face the Atlanta Dream on Sunday to finish their little road trip. Here’s hoping Jordin Canada and the rest of the Sparks get healthy as soon as possible.