Sparks erase 16-point deficit in comeback win against Chicago Sky

Los Angeles garners a fifth straight win in their comeback over Chicago.

With this win over the Chicago Sky, the Los Angeles Sparks have won 11 out of their last 13 games. (Photo by Maria Noble via Twitter)

Los Angeles Sparks held off a surging Chicago Sky team in an 84-81 win on Sunday afternoon.

Chelsea Gray led the way for the Sparks with 26 points and six assists while passing 1,500 career points, becoming the 10th player to do so. Nneka Ogwumike had her 11th double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Of the number of fouls that were called to the turnovers, it was a sloppy game at times. With focus and trust, the Sparks were able to compete for all the way to the end. Sparks head coach Derek Fisher went down a laundry list of things that happened against the Chicago Sky and chalked it all up to his team’s perseverance to finish the game.

“That’s where grit comes in,” Fisher said. In total there were 47 fouls called and 48 committed turnovers, but both teams played through all of that.

Chicago began the game swinging at Los Angeles in the first quarter. It was a sluggish start for Los Angeles with their first points came just two minutes into the game. Chicago went on an eight-point scoring run before Maria Vadeeva ended the Sparks scoring drought at 14-6.

Vadeeva, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, was a source of life for the Sparks in the first quarter to try to combat the Sky’s balanced scoring from Diamond DeShields, and Allie Quigley.

The second quarter opened with a 12-point deficit for the Sparks but they later managed to get within five points in the latter end of the quarter heading into halftime. With a driving lay-up by Kahleah Copper, the Chicago Sky held a 16-point lead over the Sparks at the 8:04 mark of the second quarter.

Chicago was able to maintain a double-digit lead over Los Angeles until Sydney Wiese hit a three-pointer at the 5:04 mark of the quarter. Los Angeles created some momentum later in the quarter with Wiese’s running lay-up, assisted by Candace Parker, then energy plays by Ogwumike and Marina Mabrey to close the quarter on a 9-0 run.

Out of halftime, the Sparks wanted to essentially be the aggressor and put themselves in a position to get over the hump.

“We all knew we came out flat and put ourselves in a hole, so it was digging ourselves out of it,” said Tierra Ruffin-Pratt about the Sparks’ mindset at the half.

The third quarter saw the Sparks pull within two as the Sky led at the end of the quarter. It was a back and forth quarter between the two teams while Gray scored 11 of her points in the third.

The fourth quarter saw the Sparks take the lead and close out the game. Off a Vadeeva and-one, the Sparks took their first lead of the game by a point. Following that, it was all up for the Sparks the rest of the fourth despite the fight that the Sky put up.

Gray took some matters into her own hands late in the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to make it a one-point game with one minute left. She then drew a foul and made both of her free throws.

Off a missed Quigley shot, Gray grabbed the rebound then passed the ball to Parker, who saw Ogwumike all alone under the basket to extend their lead. Quigley then missed the game-tying shot and the Sparks left Staples Center with the win.

Turnovers, fouls, and more

In total, there were 48 turnovers and 47 fouls called between both the Sky and Sparks. The number of fouls that were called in this game was a bit absurd as there was a lot of tick for tack fouls that stopped game-play and made it slower than it needed to be.

Even with the sluggish start, there were a bulk of turnovers by both teams that were careless at times, which were by-products of some errant passes and defensive pressure in transition.

The Sparks shot 45.7 percent from the field against the Sky. From the three, the Sparks shot better than the Sky as they were 35 percent from that range in contrast to the Sky’s 25 percent.

The Sparks improve to 15-8 on the season as they sit in third place and 1.5 games out of first place.

With the Sparks four-game homestand over, they will travel to Dallas and Chicago for a two-game road trip this week. The Sparks will play Dallas on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT.

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