The Los Angeles Sparks went through a rough patch in their four-game losing skid but they looked revitalized in their 86-74 win over the Las Vegas Aces.
Los Angeles bounced back from their losing skid against the Las Vegas Aces as it was a total team effort in scoring and defense. The Sparks brought energy and mental poise to the game as they were able to be productive while sustaining their play.
There were three players for the Sparks who finished with 18 points each in Candace Parker, Riquna Williams, and Chelsea Gray in front of a 10,295 crowd in attendance on Thursday evening.
It was stressed by Sparks head coach Derek Fisher for the team to not rely on one side of the ball on offense in being patient and moving the ball around to get a quality shot.
The Sparks opened the second quarter on an 11-3 run as Gray helped to spearhead the energetic play of the Sparks in this quarter by scoring and getting her teammates involved.
Five of Gray’s 18 points came at the beginning of the second quarter as she brought the Sparks’ lead to 24-21. Her lone assist in the quarter happened on Parker’s floater to extend the lead to 30-21 with 7:17 on the clock.
Parker looked fully comfortable back on the floor from her hamstring injury. This was Parker’s fourth game from her return last week and in this game, she was the most aggressive and at ease.
Parker scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half on 4-7 field goals. Parker looked like herself but she was turnover prone as she had seven alone in the first half.
The Sparks came out of halftime continuing their play from the second quarter as they got out to a 7-4 run to extend their lead. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt hit two three-pointers in a row to give the Sparks a nine-point advantage over the Aces 50-41.
The third quarter was full of competitive energy as the Sparks were building their lead and the Aces were trying to gain some ground. In the midst of that, with under four minutes to go in the quarter, tensions were high between the two teams.
At the 3:51 mark of the third quarter, Kalani Brown got her “Welcome to the League” moment in a tangled situation with Liz Cambage. As the Sparks rookie was defending Cambage, Cambage’s arm got caught in Brown’s hair then Cambage motioned to pull it. As a reflex, Brown reacted to the gesture with a push.
Brown was assessed a technical while Cambage received a flagrant foul following the incident.
The assignment on Cambage was a big challenge for Brown as she is used to having three small bodies around her. That moment of physicality was just a taste of what Brown will experience in the league as she’ll be fighting in the paint with big bodies like Cambage.
“You want to challenge them the best you can and show them what you have,” Brown said.
Overall, Brown had a productive game and rose to the challenge by bringing energy and not giving up on plays. Brown finished with 12 points and four rebounds.
The third quarter ended on a buzzer-beater by Williams to give the Sparks a 13-point lead 66-53. Williams then opened the fourth quarter with another three-pointer in transition.
The second half was all about Williams shot at the three-point line as she shot 50 percent from that range. Of her 18 points, nine points from Williams came in the fourth quarter. Her toughness and willingness to create her own shots help the Sparks so that they would not rely on just one person.
Gray sealed the win for the Sparks with a jumper as it was 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Parker and Alana Beard moved up in the record books in steals and rebounds.
Beard passed 700 career steals as she joins Tamika Catchings (1074) and Ticha Penicheiro (764) as the third player in history to do reach this feat.
Parker became the third player in Sparks history to reach 400 steals as she joins Lisa Leslie and Delisha Milton-Jones. Parker also passed Milton-Jones to move to ninth place in all-time rebounds with 2,575 total rebounds.
The Sparks will play the Chicago Sky in a Sunday afternoon game at 2 p.m. PT on League Pass and Spectrum Sports Net.