Los Angeles extends their winning streak to three games with a win over the Seattle Storm.
Despite a late rally by the Storm in the fourth quarter, the Sparks held on to an 83-75 finish in this afternoon’s game.
Seattle was able to dwindle the Sparks 14-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Sparks managed to stay in control with Marina Mabrey’s personal seven-point run. Mabrey’s run extended the lead for the Sparks to their largest at 17 points.
The Storm was able to make it a single-digit game late in the fourth behind a Natasha Howard lay-up but it was not enough as the Sparks held on to be victorious.
Sparks’ balance in scoring
It was a balanced effort on the offensive end of the floor as five players finished in double digits. Every player who saw the floor against the Storm were mostly positive in the +/- metric.
Candace Parker had it going to start the game for the Sparks, scoring seven points to give the Sparks a three-point lead midway through the first quarter. Once Parker went to the bench, Chelsea Gray took matters into her hands and gave the Sparks some scoring as well.
Parker finished the afternoon with a season-high 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals to lead the Sparks in scoring.
“It’s easy playing with this group. You run, and honestly on any given night, it’s anybody’s night,” Parker said about her performance and how she felt overall.
Gray not only scored when it mattered, but she was able to find her teammates in various situations in which they benefitted from a no-look pass or just a great assist. Gray finished the game with 10 points, eight assists, and two rebounds.
Maria Vadeeva gave the Sparks a good 15 minutes off the bench and was ready to contribute when needed. Vadeeva finished with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
“She always comes ready, you know, she is a hard worker and a great teammate,” Nneka Ogwumike said as she spoke highly about Vadeeva’s willingness to be ready to perform.
Vadeeva played just about 15 minutes and made the most of her time on the court.
Marina Mabrey was another player who made the most of her time on the court. Mabrey played just one minute in the Aces game but played just under 16 minutes against the Storm.
Mabrey said that she lost herself a bit these last few weeks but her performance tonight helped her come back better. With her teammates’ trust in her to shoot the ball, she will continue to bring her confidence back and contribute just like she did today.
“They know what I do in practice and stuff. So I feel like when they see me open on the three-point line, they still try to get it to me,” Mabrey said.
Mabrey was a great boost for the Sparks in the fourth quarter. She was the last player for the Sparks to score yet she was able to do a lot in the fourth. Aforementioned, Mabrey went on a seven-point run in the fourth quarter to extend the lead for the Sparks.
Mabrey’s offense was not only going for her, but her defensive intensity was ramped up as well. Mabrey was able to notch a block on fellow Notre Dame alumna Jewell Loyd in the fourth that had fans and Parker stunned.
“I think it was the block, but also the combination of the block that she did afterward,” Parker said about Mabrey’s block.
“[You] can’t teach that.”
Mabrey finished with 10 points on 2-5 shooting from the three, two rebounds, and a block.
Ogwumike’s double-doubles are normal for the Sparks at this point, but nonetheless, they still matter. Ogwumike had 13 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals against the Storm.
Though scoreless in the first quarter, Ogwumike’s scoring began late in the second quarter. Even without scoring, Ogwumike was able to just be on the floor doing little things, whether it was on the offensive end or the defensive end to help her teammates.
“I don’t really even think about getting mine. I just kind of played to the flow of the game,” Ogwumike said.
“You just have to wait until the ball comes to you. I knew eventually, obviously, that I had to be aggressive.”
As the playoff push is underway with about 12-13 games left in the season, the Sparks have been leaning on players to contribute whether it’s in an abundance of minutes or a few minutes. Either way, players will be ready to compete.
Though the Sparks see every game as individual ones, they know that each game is a set up for positioning in the postseason.
The Sparks (13-8) continue their four-game homestand on Thursday as they take on the Phoenix Mercury on Pat Summit Night at 7 p.m. PT.