Sparks start road trip against Clark, Fever in Indiana

Henry Tran-The Sporting Tribune
The Sparks will go on the road for the next three games with their first stop in Indiana to face Caitlin Clark and the Fever.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Sparks (1-4) will go on the road for the next three games.

Their first stop? It will be in Indiana where they face a familiar foe in Caitlin Clark and the Fever (1-6).

The Sparks went against the Fever last Friday in front of 19,000+ fans in Crypto.Com Arena. Unfortunately for the home team, Clark made two electrifying deep three-pointers that put away the Sparks. Hollywood endings happen in Tinseltown quite a bit and the Fever got their “happily ever after” on that night.

Los Angeles will have a chance to snap a two-game losing streak as they look to win their rematch in Indiana.

The Fever might have a different look off the tip. Head coach Christie Sides started Temi Fagbenle instead of NaLyssa Smith last Saturday against the Las Vegas Aces. Fagbenle had a huge third quarter (11 of her 17 points were in that period) against the Sparks on Friday so L.A. has to find a way to neutralize her.

“They sat down NaLyssa Smith and they didn’t play her very much,” Sparks coach Curt Miller said after their loss to the Fever. “But that’s a credit to Temi (Fagbenle)’s motor. Temi’s physicality and her rim-running bothered us.”

Kelsey Mitchell went off in the fourth (13 of her 18 in that final quarter) while Aliyah Boston (17 points) got out of her slump in Los Angeles. Their performances set the stage for Clark to sink those two big three-pointers.

“Kelsey Mitchell is elite and hard to guard off the bounce,” Miller assessed. “And when they got us spread out and we were unable to get the congestion that we believe in and help in then it becomes a problem with Kelsey Mitchell.

“I thought the way we guarded Caitlin Clark was really effective. She went 2 for 9 against us at the arc and kept her to 11 points.”

Dearica Hamby will look to be more of a force in the second half like she was against the Wings last Sunday. She only scored two of her 18 points against the Fever after halftime.

Cameron Brink was certainly encouraging on both sides of the ball on Sunday. Brink had her career-best 21 points while swatting three shots on the defensive end. She still got in foul trouble but did a very good job staying on the court while playing with four fouls.

“That’s just something I need to continue to adjust with,” Brink said after Sunday’s game. “Coaches and my teammates are giving me grace so I’m just going to work through it.”

And while Rickea Jackson didn’t produce as much on Sunday, she scored a season-best 16 points against Indiana on Friday. Jackson will be relied on to get buckets as her minutes increase.

Unfortunately for the Sparks, they will be without Layshia Clarendon, who suffered a head injury last Sunday.

Both teams will be looking for their second win of the season. And it should be quite a game once again as three of the top four picks of the 2024 WNBA Draft share the court for the second time in five nights.

The Sporting Tribune’s Fredo Cervantes contributed to this report.