Confidence and trust were key for Los Angeles
Los Angeles came back home for their two-game home-stand and played with poise in front of fans for the first time this season on Thursday evening.
With the news of both Ogwumike sisters being out of commission for a while with knee injuries, the Los Angeles Sparks rolled out an eight-player rotation and rose to the occasion in a dominant 98-63 finish against the Indiana Fever.
The Sparks were the aggressor against this Indiana Fever team and confident within one another as they played by committee on both ends of the floor. Multiple players finished the game with double figures and the team had an overall field goal percentage of 56.1%.
Through the first half, Fever center Teaira McCowan was limited to just 6:34 minutes and the Sparks guards were operating in the lanes converting on some shots in the paint. The Sparks bested the Fever in points in the paint with 32 points. Spreading the Fever bigs out to the perimeter allowed the Sparks to create those gaps so that players could drive into the lane to make shots or give them the allotted room to see the floor and pass the ball out to the perimeter for an open shot.
Sparks Head Coach and General Manager Derek Fisher touched on that gameplay in Thursday’s game and applauded the team for leaning into the good pressure with that ‘my team needs me’ mindset that raised everyone’s level up play up. Fisher also noted that other teams could create problems for them defensively and that this cannot be the one thing that they do lean on.
The defensive effort that the Sparks displayed is something that should be consistent on a nightly basis. Through these first few games, they have been able to hold opponents to under 80 points on average. Knowing that they cannot rely on purely outscoring opponents, the Sparks have to continue to be committed in being disruptive on the defensive and capitalize off turnovers.
Picking an opponents’ pockets and scoring in transition continues to keep their fast pace nature high as well. The Sparks were able to score 20 points off 18 turnovers committed by the Fever in the game. Creating a pace that allows them to thrive keeps them pushing the ball in transition off their activity on the defensive end.
At a point in the fourth quarter, the Sparks were able to amass a 38 point lead as they were playing in a rhythm with big contributions from multiple players. That final quarter was the Sparks highest scoring quarter, outscoring the Fever 27-20 while shooting 85.7% from the three and 66.7% from the field.
Kristi Toliver led the way for the Sparks in scoring with 22 points on 8-12 field goals and two rebounds. As she continues to find her form this season after sitting out the 2020 season, she is trusting her instincts and heeding to her teammates & coaches’ encouragement.
Te’a Cooper followed up with a 15-point performance. Erica Wheeler finished with 14 points, five assists, and two steals. Bria Holmes had a season-high 14 points on 66% of her field goals, seven rebounds and three assists.
Holmes had been in a slump to start the season with offensive production but was doing the other things for the Sparks and knew that she would come out of the slump with confidence at the helm. In this performance, Holmes had a team high plus-minus of +39.
The Sparks record on the season improves to 3-3 with some confidence building wins. Until the Ogwumike sisters return to the floor, the players’ commitment to themselves and one another should keep them afloat against some formidable opponents that the Sparks will take on through this month. Even with these injuries, the Sparks believe that they can show the depth and resilience they have.