WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was a game of runs between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Washington Mystics. But in the end, the Sparks made that final run and after a skirmish that led to a couple of ejections, Los Angeles came away with the win, 91-83. The victory snaps a three-game losing skid for the Sparks.
The Sparks got off to a much better start than they did on Friday. After the Mystics took a 15-8 lead, the Sparks made a huge run that carried over to the second quarter. Zia Cooke would score 7 quick points to end the first quarter. It was 19-17, Sparks, after 10 minutes.
Jordin Canada and Azura Stevens made buckets to make it a 24-17 game (Canada made a three-pointer) which made it a 16-2 overall run for L.A. But the Mystics got going and tied the game at 29 after Natasha Cloud made back-to-back buckets. Still, the Sparks closed out the half with 7 straight points to take a 43-36 lead into halftime.
Tianna Hawkins caught fire in the third quarter as she was mostly responsible for a 10-0 run to start the period. D.C. actually had a 7-point lead before Jordin Canada threw in a wild three to cut the deficit to 65-61 going into the fourth period.
A Li Meng three boosted the lead to 71-61. But we know what the Sparks do; they just tug on the other team’s heels. A Brittney Sykes bucket made it 77-69 for the Mystics.
Then the Sparks got to the line constantly. They kept chipping in on the Mystics lead. Finally, a tough Nneka Ogwumike jumper gave the Sparks the advantage. Karlie Samuelson would make a clutch three afterwards and the Sparks were suddenly on a 14-1 run.
Natasha Cloud was able to counter with a lay-up. And then this happened:
Layshia Clarendon and Brittney Sykes had a bit of a wild tussle before they were separated. Both players were ejected (probably a little too quick, honestly). Clarendon was supposed to shoot the foul shots but since she was thrown out of the game, the Mystics could select her replacement on the free throw line. Rae Burrell was chosen and she sank both shots. The Mystics then had to play the foul game and even with a huge Tianna Hawkins three, the Sparks did their part from the charity stripe. The three-game losing streak is done.
The Sparks took good care of the ball in the first half before the Mystics’ harassing defense forced them into playing a bit out of control. But the Sparks did the same thing to Washington; Los Angeles is pretty good at forcing turnovers, too. L.A. ended with 15 giveaways while the Mystics had 16.
Los Angeles had 10 three-pointers compared to the Mystics’ 7. It’s not common that L.A. outshoots teams behind the arc so that was huge. L.A. once again had the rebound advantage, 32-24.
There were a couple of milestones that also happened on Sunday.
Nneka Ogwumike had yet another 20-point, 10-rebound performance. Congrats to Nneka for getting into the Top 5 in WNBA career double-doubles.
Head coach Curt Miller also got a new achievement. He has reached 150 WNBA career wins as head coach and is the fifth fastest to do so. Congrats to Coach Miller.
As mentioned, Nneka went for 20 and 10. She led five players in double figures. Azura Stevens got off to a fast start and ended with 17. Jordin Canada got most of her points from the foul line as she went 9 for 10 (.900) there on her way to 15 points. Karlie Samuelson made huge threes; she scored 13. And Zia Cooke scored her second straight 10-point game right after her DNP.
Tianna Hawkins once again led the District in scoring; she had 23 points. Brittney Sykes, who had her day ended early, put in 17 points. Natasha Cloud had 13-6-7.
The Sparks now go to Indiana for a game against the Fever on Tuesday night. They won both games against the Fever a couple of weeks ago. Let’s see if they can follow up Sunday’s win with another to end the roadie on a good note.