Wings face Sparks in final tuneup before playoffs

The Los Angeles Sparks complete a disappointing campaign when they host the Dallas Wings on Sunday.

The Sparks (13-22) have dropped eight of their past nine games and were eliminated from the playoff race Thursday when they were walloped 93-69 by the visiting Connecticut Sun. Two nights earlier, the Sun routed Los Angeles 97-71.

The late-season collapse was partially due to the mutual departure of center Liz Cambage on July 26. The Sparks are 1-7 since then.

It marks just the second time the Sparks have missed the playoffs in consecutive campaigns in their 26-season WNBA history. Derek Fisher started the season as coach before being dismissed with a 5-7 record. Interim coach Fred Williams is 8-15.

“We’ve dealt with so much adversity on and off the court,” guard Brittney Sykes said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “That’s not an excuse, but it’s a reality. So we have to just continue to give ourselves grace.

“We did what we were supposed to do and sometimes the pieces just don’t hit. But I’m proud of our team.”

Dallas (17-18) has lost back-to-back contests after winning a season-best five straight games. The Wings are locked in as the No. 6 seed for the playoffs.

Dallas will be without All-Star guard Arike Ogunbowale for the fourth straight game. It leaves 19.7 points per game out of the starting lineup.

Ogunbowale will also miss the first round of the playoffs after undergoing iliac crest core muscle avulsion repair on Tuesday. The iliac crest is located in the pelvis near the hip and connects to multiple core muscles.

The Wings split two home games against the New York Liberty without Ogunbowale before falling 86-74 to the host Phoenix Mercury on Friday.

Despite losing her best player, Dallas coach Vickie Johnson points to the team’s improvement in chemistry as a reason why Dallas can flourish in the postseason.

“They’re just trusting each other more, just communicating through the ups and the downs,” Johnson told reporters. “I think that’s the biggest thing. …

“They’ve been coming together, discussing whatever they have to discuss and getting to understand that within themselves. For a long time, nobody really took ownership. It’s always great to see our players take ownership.”

The Sparks are 2-1 against Dallas this season, including a 93-91 victory on May 31 at Los Angeles.

–Field Level Media

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