Sparks not able to get over hump in loss to Chicago Sky

Sparks could not break through the Chicago Sky’s lead and pace

Off the bench, Sparks guard Brittney Sykes brought some momentum for Los Angeles in spurts of their loss to the Chicago Sky. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was a rollercoaster of energy for the Los Angeles Sparks in their 96-78 loss to the Chicago Sky. The Sparks fell behind early and could not recover from the Sky’s constant big leads. Four Sparks players finished the game in double-digit scoring.

“Chicago was ready to play and we weren’t,” Candace Parker, who finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds, said, “They hit shots, they moved the ball, they played aggressive. I think we used everything we had to get back into the game, but Chicago played well tonight and we have to figure out ways to start the first quarter and the third quarter better.”

Despite the loss, Brittney Sykes continued bringing the energy off the bench against the Sky as she finished with 16 points on 6-9 shooting from the field. This was Sykes’ second consecutive game with a double-digit scoring finish. Sykes was doing a lot for the Sparks not only offensively, but doing the other things and working hard on the defensive end.

“I know that I’m an energy player, I know that I create possessions for my team, whether it’s on the defensive end or the offensive end so for me I just got to come in and do my job,” Sykes said.

Los Angeles was slow to start the game as Chicago came out the gate hot after their win against the Las Vegas Aces in their season opener.

The Sky got out to a big double-digit lead in the first quarter as the Sparks could not get going early. The Sparks started to pick up some steam in the latter part of the quarter with a layup by Sykes and went on a 10-2 run, Sykes scored 8 points off the bench during the run, to bring their deficit down to five at the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, Nneka Ogwumike started to get in a rhythm early in the quarter, scoring 6 points by the middle of the quarter. The Sparks made an effort to get within a point 22-21 on Parker’s layup then Chicago’s Azurá Stevens pulled the Sky away with a layup response of her own. There were signs of life in the second quarter as the Sparks tried their best to stay in reach to capture a lead.

Chicago managed to lead by four at the half, 40-36 with the help of the Sky’s Gabby Williams beginning a hot night from the three as she made all of her three attempts. Los Angeles shot 44% from the field, 22% from the three, and had 8 turnovers in the first half. Ogwumike led all Sparks scorers with 8 points through the first two quarters.

After the break, Chicago was able to pick up where they left off in the first half. The Chicago Sky’s lead amassed a 20-point lead in the third quarter. The Sparks could not keep up with the Sky’s high-paced offense through the quarter until Sydney Wiese scored two three-pointers amidst the Sparks’ 9-0 run in an attempt to close the deficit heading into the fourth quarter.

The Sky outscored the Sparks 26-19 in the third. Los Angeles’ efforts could not stop Chicago from pulling away once again in the fourth quarter as they defeated the Sparks by 18 points.

Los Angeles finished the game with 42.9 shooting from the field, 30 rebounds, and 16 turnovers. Defensively, the Sparks could not keep bodies on the perimeter as they allowed the Sky to shoot 44% from the three.

The Sparks bench posted 30 points in the game led by Sykes and Wiese, who finished the game with 8 points. Ogwumike finished the game with 13 points on 60% shooting from the field and three rebounds. Riquna Williams had 12 points. Chelsea Gray finished with 10 points and 7 assists.

“Everybody is important, especially in a season like this, you never know when your name is going to get called,” Wiese said.

Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher said that the team cannot get down about the loss with Connecticut on the horizon. With the turnaround a bit quicker than normal a normal season, the Sparks have to learn from the loss and put it behind them to focus for Thursday’s game.

The team sees what they are capable of judging by how they played in their season opener against the Mercury and just have to put together a full 40-minute game that shows that play again as this loss is just the first of many bumps in the road for them this season.

“We got to go back to the drawing board in terms of how we’re preparing ourselves individually and collectively to come back and be better on Thursday.”

It will be a task for the Sparks to go against a team in the Connecticut Sun on Thursday as the Sun has started this season 0-2 so far with losses to the Washington Mystics and Minnesota Lynx. Los Angeles will play Connecticut at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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