Sparks take on Clark, Fever back at Crypto.com Arena

John Panganiban-The Sporting Tribune
It's the first time Cameron Brink and Caitlin Clark face each other in a WNBA game as the Los Angeles Sparks host the Indiana Fever.

LOS ANGELES — The Sparks are making their return to Crypto.Com Arena on Friday night after a two-game stay at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.

So who are they playing in their first game back? The Indiana Fever. And that team includes the hottest name in women’s basketball, Caitlin Clark.

The Fever are 0-5. Clark is still adjusting to the league but she is averaging a tidy 17.8 points per game to go with 4.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists. She is turning the ball over at nearly six a game but that’ll come down as the game slows down for her.

Sparks coach Curt Miller knows that the Fever are more than just Clark.

“Caitlin (Clark) is just a piece of a lot of weapons for that Indiana team,” Miller said. “Obviously hungry for their first win. I think they’ve played really well but they’ve had a difficult schedule out of the gate.

“So we know it’s going to be a tough game,” Miller continued. “It starts with Caitlin but Kelsey Mitchell, (Aliyah) Boston, (NaLyssa) Smith, they have a ton of weapons.”

Mitchell (12.8 points per game) was an all-star last season while Smith (11.6 points, 7.6 rebounds) is a double-double threat.

Boston has gotten off to a slow start (8.4 points while shooting .388 from the field) but the 2023 Rookie of the Year is still dangerous on the post and in the pick and roll.

As for the Sparks, they defeated the Mystics in an ugly game Tuesday that saw them commit 24 turnovers. Forward Dearica Hamby made note of that after the game.

“We gotta take better care of the ball,” Hamby said, who had 17 points and 18 rebounds against Washington. “It’s gonna be really hard to win games with the amount of turnovers.”

Teams have been physical with the Fever and the Sparks will be no exception to that. And as witnessed in that Mystics win, it was a defensive stand by Cameron Brink that sealed the game.

Clark is looking forward to playing in Los Angeles and going against her fellow draft classmates.

“I’m very excited. Getting to play in Crypto, it’s an iconic arena,” Clark said. “I expect the crowd to be amazing. And obviously, Cameron (Brink) and Rickea (Jackson), two really great rookies that are doing a lot for the Sparks.

“So I think it’s going to be a great environment. It’s going to be a great game. The fans are going to be incredible and just a good display of basketball for everybody to see.”

The Sparks hope they can show that good display of basketball and get their second straight win at the expense of the still-winless Indiana Fever.

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