LOS ANGELES –– It was close throughout in L.A. But in the end, the Sparks ran away from the Chicago Sky, 77-62.
The Sparks got off to a fast start once again as they began with a 13-2 run. The Sky came back a bit but they had a hard time holding on to the ball, which is par for the course against the Sparks. L.A. had a 20-12 lead after one quarter.
Nneka Ogwumike went to work as no one could stop her from going to the paint whether it’s transition or half court. She went quite a bit to her left against the Chicago defense. Then Alanna Smith got hot and helped the Sky get closer by half. The Sparks led, 37-33.
Alanna Smith scored 6 early points in the third before the Sparks defense turned it up again as they held the Sky scoreless in the last three minutes of the period. During that time, the Sparks scored 8 consecutive as they entered the fourth with a comfortable 58-48 lead.
The Sky cut the lead in half to start the period. Their defense kept digging in as they kept the possessions long for the Sparks. They were eventually able to cut the deficit to 62-60. But Karlie Samuelson made a huge jumper. The Sparks kept getting to the line. A Jordin Canada lay-up boosted the lead to double digits before Samuelson topped off the run with a three-pointer. The Sparks ended with a 15-2 stampede and won the game going away.
Jasmine Thomas made her season debut on Friday night. She scored five points in limited minutes and Coach Curt Miller was glad to have her back.
Nneka Ogwumike talked about the team’s composure and rebounding after the loss to Seattle.
Dearica Hamby (let’s not forget that she just gave birth not even three months ago) had her best scoring game of the season and she talked about her own expectations, even though, again, she just gave birth.
The Sky committed 17 turnovers against the Sparks. As always, it’s a grind against the Los Angeles WNBA team. Both teams can shoot the three but they both shot badly (though Miller admittedly mentioned focusing on the Sky’s backcourt). L.A. went 3 for 20 (.150) while the Sky went 4 for 23 (.174). The physicality took a toll on the Sky; the Sparks outboarded them, 42-34.
Nneka Ogwumike had her fourth straight double-double at 20 points and 14 boards. Dearica Hamby had 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals. Jordin Canada hustled her way to 16-5-5.
Alanna Smith led the Sky with 19 points, 9 boards, and 5 blocks. Elizabeth Williams scored 14, grabbed 7 boards, and swatted four shots. Kahleah Copper was held to 10 points off 4 for 12 shooting.
The Sparks go on the road as they take on the Minnesota Lynx. At the very least, they learned from Tuesday’s game against Seattle and applied their lessons on Friday night to go over .500.
The Sporting Tribune’s Laurie Smith contributed to this report.