LOS ANGELES — On Friday, the Sparks got the best of the Wings in a fantastic comeback. On Sunday, they made it two in a row. Los Angeles defeated Dallas on the day Nneka Ogwumike got named to the all-star team as a starter, 93-83.
Before the game, Coach Curt Miller talked about trying to avoid that slow start that they had on Friday.
As for Nneka Ogwumike, it’s her 8th overall all-star game selection and her second time being a starter. Nneka was asked about it before the game.
And Nneka was asked if she liked playing in all-star games.
(Excuse my not-so-flattering laugh in the footage.)
Congratulations to Nneka Ogwumike for being an all-star starter. However, there was a game to be played against the Dallas Wings.
And it looked like the Sparks were going to be down early again. But the Sparks defense did their thing yet again. They were down, 18-13, before Karlie Samuelson, Zia Cooke, Dearica Hamby, and Jordin Canada all got buckets to ground the Wings. The Sparks scored 13 unanswered points to suddenly be up, 26-18, entering the second period.
While the Sparks got up by double digits in the second quarter, the Wings came back with a run of their own as they did some damage in the paint. Still, the Sparks withstood the run as Nneka Ogwumike was able to tie the game at 44 with a jumper before halftime.
The Wings went up by 11 as Crystal Dangerfield went on a tear as she scored 11 points in the third. However, the Sparks were able to cut into the deficit as they went on a barrage from behind the arc. Chiney Ogwumike got fouled near the end of the period and her foul shots snipped the Wings lead to 73-71 entering the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, it was back and forth for a bit before the Sparks made some huge stops. Destanni Henderson came in and made some big buckets again. Nneka Ogwumike then took it home with some huge baskets. Jordin Canada’s free throws put the team up 9 with under a minute left. Eventually, the Sparks got their second straight win over the Wings.
After the game, I asked Coach Miller about Henny affecting the past couple of games.
I also asked Karlie Samuelson how she’s feeling after playing a lot of minutes. Both Karlie and Dearica Hamby reiterated that nobody’s 100 percent through the course of the season.
And Dearica was asked about how it has been this season playing with Nneka.
It was a game of runs between the two teams. The Sparks had a huge end of the third quarter as they cut the Wings lead from 11 to two. And once again, it came down to the fourth quarter for the Sparks. And L.A. made the big plays when it mattered. Nneka Ogwumike had a huge game with 27 points and 12 boards as she carried the Sparks on her back when they needed it. Dearica Hamby scored 17 while Karlie Samuelson made four threes on her way to a career-best 14 points. Jordin Canada had a season-high 9 assists. As for Henny, she scored 9 points and made some big plays in the fourth.
On Dallas’s side, Arike Ogunbowale and Crystal Dangerfield each scored 18 (though Arike notably struggled on the field again at 6/18, .333). Teaira McCowan had 14 points and 9 boards while Kalani Brown came off the bench to score 10 points and grab 7 rebounds. Satou Sabally was in foul trouble and only ended with 8 points while Natasha Howard had a more subdued game than Friday with 13 points.
The Sparks are now back at .500 and salvaged their home stand with those wins over Dallas. Their stay in L.A. ended with a 2-3 record and now they’re going back on the road to play a couple of games against Chicago next.
Maybe this will be a turning point? At the very least, the Sparks have showed they can finish games the last couple of times.
The Sporting Tribune’s Laurie Smith contributed to this report.