The interim head coach saw some positives and corrections to be made from the loss.
It’s been a whirlwind week for the Los Angeles Sparks. Following the dismissal of Derek Fisher as head coach and general manager of the franchise, the Sparks named seasoned coach Fred Williams as the interim head coach moving forward.
With a few practices under his belt before the game against the Las Vegas Aces, Williams was very optimistic about the Sparks’ game plan. Williams said they worked on having a faster pace, limiting turnovers, and being more aggressive on switching opportunities.
The result of his first game as Sparks Head Coach was not ideal but Williams looked at the positives of that game plan in the 89-72 loss on Saturday evening at Crypto.com Arena.
“We forced 19 turnovers to a team who’s at the top of the league and that’s a plus sign for us,” said Williams who also mentioned that they had 13 turnovers but knew that some of those errors can be corrected moving forward.
A goal that Wiliams has for this team through the rest of this season? Consistently have high field goal attempts.
“I want about 75 to 80 attempts a game,” Williams added that they had good looks on shots but it was just a matter of them going in.
In the first quarter and a bit in the second, the Sparks were able to get the Aces in the spots that they wanted them. Katie Lou Samuelson used those spots early and was able to get off to a good start for the Sparks posting nine points in the first half, seven of which were scored in the opening quarter.
Samuelson was the Sparks’ leading scorer through the first three quarters. Other players steadily began to see their shots finally fall through the contest.
“She’s one of those players that has a very high IQ of the game,” Williams said about Samuelson, “She’s always going to be at the right spot at the right time to put a shot up.”
After trading shots through the first quarter, the Sparks went scoreless towards the end as the Aces used a 10-0 run to make it a 25-18 score.
The Sparks let the game get away from them in the second quarter following plays that left players like Dearica Hamby and Theresa Plaisance hot from midrange and the perimeter. A’ja Wilson was the major factor for the Aces in the first half with her 22 points and eight rebounds.
A’ja Wilson had been a constant problem for the Sparks with her scoring throughout the contest, boasting a season-high 35 points with 11 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals.
“Wilson will open up her game by driving to the basket and getting some stuff inside,” Williams gave the 2020 MVP her props for her performance, “Hats off to her. She had a good night.”
The Sparks allowed the Aces to get out and run in transition in the second quarter which caused their slippage defensively. Some of the timely threes that the Aces were able to knock down were a hindrance to what the Sparks had planned on limiting.
“That’s where they got hot,” Jordin Canada said postgame and added that not helping and allowing them to shoot those open threes were also part of that slippage.
The game got out of reach for the Sparks in the third quarter with the Aces amassing a 26-point lead that the Sparks could not come back from.
There were some signs of life for the Sparks in the fourth quarter but ultimately, they could not fully get over the hump to give themselves the chance to make it a close game. Though the Aces did command control of the game, the Sparks were able to make an 8-2 run to get themselves under the 20-point deficit threshold.
In his first bout as interim head coach, Williams did not want the Sparks to have another outing like their last meeting with Las Vegas in May.
“I didn’t want to lose by 28,” Williams said about how he wanted Saturday evening to go in a big test for the Sparks against the top team in the league.
The Sparks held up to that by ending the contest with a 17-point deficit while they still held the Aces to under 100 points.
Three Sparks players finished in double figures. Samuelson had 13 points, three rebounds, and two steals. Nneka Ogwumike finished with a team-high 16 points with nine rebounds and two steals. Canada had 10 points, two rebounds, and eight assists.
The Sparks now drop to 5-8 on the season.
As things are still a bit disconnected, the Sparks will use their much-needed practice time to gel before heading to Texas to face the Dallas Wings next weekend and then back to the Crypto.com Arena to take on the Washington Mystics.
‘By the time we play here next time at home you will see a big-time result with this team,” Williams declared about what is to come from this Sparks team.