The Los Angeles Sparks began their two-game road trip with an emphatic win over the Washington Mystics on Friday night. Los Angeles dropped 97 points, their highest so far this season, in the 97-86 victory at the Capital One Arena.
Friday night’s performance moves the Sparks (7-2) ahead of the Connecticut Sun (7-3) for the best record in the WNBA.
This was perhaps the most complete performance of the season for the Sparks, at least from an offensive perspective. Candace Parker recorded second first double-double of the season. She led everyone with 23 points on the night, while dishing out 11 assists. Parker was a mere three rebounds away from a triple-double against the Mystics.
But then, there was the rest of the squad. The four other starters, Alana Beard, Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray, and Odyssey Sims, all scored in double digits. Then, off the bench, Riquana Williams put up her best offensive performance of the season, scoring 16 points. She was perfect from the field, as well, hitting all six of shots, including three from behind the 3-point line.
Sparks Show Full Display on Offense
Los Angeles’ offense came out firing on all cylinders on Friday night. It looked like the Sparks, especially Gray, were getting everything they wanted in the opening ten minutes. Gray was able to showcase her abilities early. She got a high percentage shot underneath the rack before completing an and one on the next possession.
Parker then drilled a three pointer to extend the Sparks run to eight unanswered points. Sims followed suit with another Sparks layup to make it 10-0 two minutes and 20 seconds into this contest. Elena Della Donne finally ended the run when she got her own layup to get Washington on the board.
Maria Vadeeva WNBA Debut
The long awaited debut of Maria Vadeeva came in the second quarter. Vadeeva scored her first WNBA points at the 9:31 mark. She set a high screen for Sims before rolling back towards the basket. Sims found Vadeeva with an easy pass, who nailed her mid-range jump shot.
Williams scored 13 of the Sparks 27 points during quarter number two. She made all three of her attempts from behind the arc in that frame, while going a perfect 5-5. Without her explosiveness, Washington would have made this a much tighter opening half.
Head coach Brian Agler and the squad had been preaching about getting better at movement and making crisp passes all season. That hard work looked as if it was paying off. In the first half, the Sparks notched 17 assists, with Parker leading the pack with nine.
“I think we are getting better and that is one reason our offense is getting better, because of our spacing and our cutting,” Agler said after the game.
Washington Fights Their Way Back
It never looked like the Mystics were going to get back in the game. At one point in the third, the visiting side had extended their lead to 20 points. But then, Washington started scraping points back. That 20-point lead was cut to 13, in large part thanks to LaToya Sanders. She brought down four offensive rebounds to keep Washington in the game.
That momentum that the home team created carried into the last quarter of the game. Washington, led by Sanders, continued shooting lights out, making eight of 13 attempts from the field. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt tied the game up at 76-all with a layup underneath the basket.
However, the Sparks answered with a seven-point run of their own, with Beard leading the push. And the Sparks made their last six free throw attempts to escape the nation’s capitol with their seventh win.
Next Los Angeles Sparks Game
There’s one game left on this road trip for the Los Angeles Sparks. They will face off against Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon. Last time against the Sky, the Sparks won handily by a score of 77-59. Los Angeles will look to replicate that performance once more.