Sparks fall to Lynx in home opener

The Sparks were unable to connect on the final play that could have pushed the game forward.

Following a tough road trip that took a toll on them on the latter end, the Los Angeles Sparks went home to the Crypto.com arena just for one night before heading off on a two-game road trip.

“The road trip was tough on all of us,” Sparks head coach and general manager Derek Fisher said pregame heading into this contest against Minnesota, “ [We] just started to run out of gas after a certain amount of days on the road.”

Though their road record currently stands at 2-2, the Sparks hoped to start anew and get their home-opening win in Los Angeles on Tuesday night after being four other teams’ opponents for their home openers.

The 4701 Sparks fans in attendance showed their support from the very beginning to the last possession of the game. This team knows that they will continue to do so no matter the result.

Unfortunately for the Sparks, the Minnesota Lynx came into town and earned their first win in an 87-84 finish following Kayla McBride’s crafty reverse layup and corresponding free throw. Following that play, there was a chance for the Sparks to tie the game on an out-of-bounds play, but it ended up botched.

“We need three but in that particular situation, if Liz would have caught the basketball cleanly, she would have had a passing opportunity on top hopefully,” Fisher said about that last possession and noted that some of the decisions will never be perfect.

Rebounding has been an ongoing issue for the team early in the season. The team hoped to have a handle on the boards with the acquisition of Liz Cambage but has not had the best of luck.

The Lynx outrebounded the Sparks 27-19, resulting in 22 second-chance points off their offensive rebounds. The Sparks only had 14 second-chance points off their 19 rebounds. Nneka Ogwumike, who posted 22 points, had a team-high of 8 rebounds.

The guards are doing a lot of chasing behind the ball defensively, putting them out of position to get rebounds and pulling their frontcourt players further out. With opposing offenses seeing clear and driving into the lane as the Sparks’ bigs are on the perimeter, they cannot grab those boards.

“I think some of it is just physically not having taken ourselves through some of those actions that require high levels of physical activity intensity,” Fisher said, “It’s just the energy and the effort to get after the basketball and be the first one to it.”

For Ogwumike, she said that rebounding is a mentality and cannot be taught.

“You know, it’s just something that you do. So that just has to be a non-negotiable when we get on the court, Ogwumike said postgame, “I can imagine that it will be better moving forward.”

On the bright side, the Sparks buckled down defensively for some stops. Lexie Brown was able to get her three-point shot going in the third quarter to give the team a lead heading into the final quarter.

“They kind of opened up that three-point line for me, you know, by getting in the paint,” Brown, who finished with 12 points on 4-6 threes, said, “I just kind of have to be a little bit more aggressive on my shots.”

The other double-digit scorer of the night for the Sparks was Cambage with 12 points to go along with her three blocked shots In her Sparks’ debut, Katie Lou Samuelson led the bench with 9 points.

The Sparks bench outscored the Lynx 23-8. The Sparks also finished the game with 47.8% shooting from the field and outscored the Lynx 18-10 in fast break points.

The Sparks move to 2-3 on the season and hope to regroup before heading on a two-game road trip to some familiar places for Jordin Canada and Cambage in Seattle and Las Vegas within the upcoming week.

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