After a bad game in Vegas, the Los Angeles Sparks looked to bounce back at home against a visiting Connecticut Sun.
The Los Angeles Sparks were able to pull away late from the Connecticut Sun in their 77-70 win at Staples Center on Friday night.
It was a huge night from the Ogwumike sisters who combined for 39 points in the win. Chiney Ogwumike led the way for all scorers with 20 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. Nneka Ogwumike followed up with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and one assist.
After some remnants of the performance against the Las Vegas Aces was present early on, Los Angeles was able to overcome that and play as a unit in their home-opener against Connecticut.
It was a slow start for the Sparks and Sun in the first quarter as the Sun opened the game with four points and the Sparks did not score until the 8:26 mark of the quarter on a Nneka Ogwumike pull-up jump shot.
Ogwumike scored the first six points for the Sparks then the game opened up for Los Angeles.
The defense was key for the Sparks as they were able to disrupt Connecticut’s offense. Chelsea Gray stole the ball and assisted to Ogwumike in transition for a layup that gave Los Angeles a 12-9 lead.
Los Angeles committed eight-team fouls in the first quarter that stopped some of the momentum at times. Kalani Brown had two points and fouls in 1:38 of play in the quarter. Six other Sparks players had just one foul in the quarter.
There were some remnants of a stagnant offense that plagued the Sparks in the Aces game that was present in the second quarter. In the opening minutes of the quarter, Los Angeles could not hit any of their shots.
It was not until a layup by Nneka Ogwumike that the Sparks were able to grab a two-point lead. From then on, Los Angeles was able to find a groove offensively with Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Gray scoring two points each to help the Sparks pull away from the Sun.
Sydney Wiese’s three-pointer gave the Sparks some room with a comfortable six-point lead in her first career start with Los Angeles. That was Wiese’s only made attempt however her presence on the floor was felt as she was +12 in the game thanks to her defense and movement on the offensive end.
The Sparks were able to make a run late in the quarter all while putting defensive pressure on the Sun. They held Connecticut to just 12 points in the quarter on 6-23 field goals.
Chiney Ogwumike shined in the third quarter for the Sparks against her former team. Ogwumike didn’t have the best showing in the Aces game but throughout this one, she exceeded her point total from last Sunday’s game.
Ogwumike had six points alone in the first half then sustained some momentum for herself in the third quarter. As the Sparks started the quarter off to a good start, she contributed four straight points.
Overall, she scored six points for the Sparks in the quarter to help the Sparks hold their lead. Ogwumike’s layup, in response to Connecticut’s Jasmine Thomas’ three-pointer, forced the Sun to call a timeout as the Sparks led 47-39.
The teamed flowed with one another throughout the quarter but at the end of the third ended, the lead by the Sparks did not move as they finished the quarter up 51-42. However, the Sparks did force the Sun to turn the ball over four times in the quarter despite the Sun outrebounded the Sparks 12-10.
It was another slow start to the fourth quarter but the Sparks were maintaining their lead over the Sun.
Connecticut was outscoring Los Angeles early in the quarter as the Sun tried to chip at the Sparks’ lead. Despite the Sun beating the Sparks in the fourth with scoring 25-23, Los Angeles was still able to pull away with a lead.
Post the halfway point in the quarter, the Sparks started to ramp up their offense. Los Angeles got the stops that they needed on the defensive end while the Ogwumike sisters made big plays down the stretch to protect the lead for the Sparks.
With 1:16 left, Chiney Ogwumike fought her way to grab an offensive rebound, make a putback layup, and draw contact on a foul in the play. She then made the free throw. Nneka Ogwumike made a big three-pointer with 40 seconds left to seal the lead for the Sparks.
Gray finished with 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists. The Sparks’ bench was led by Riquna Williams with seven points along with Ruffin-Pratt who had five points, three rebounds, and three assists.
This was Derek Fisher’s first win within the WNBA as head coach. Without Candace Parker (hamstring), Alana Beard (left leg/rest), and Maria Vadeeva (overseas) on the floor, this was a good bounce-back win for the Sparks ahead of their four-game road trip.