After a disappointing two-game road trip, the Los Angeles Sparks (4-6) are back at home to take on the Las Vegas Aces (6-4).
The Sparks will play the Las Vegas Aces, who have been on a roll winning the last 4 of 5 games. Las Vegas is currently on a two-game winning streak following their win against the Seattle Storm.
Aces won opener; Sparks want revenge
These two teams met in the Aces’ home-opener on May 26th, which resulted in an 83-70 win for Las Vegas. In that match-up, A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride led the way with 21 and 20 points respectively.
The contribution from Dearica Hamby off the bench helped propel the Aces, while Hamby scored 12 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Hamby’s tenacity countered the physical play that the Sparks displayed.
Chiney Ogwumike was not able to get going offensively. She finished a paltry 1-10 from the field in her season debut with the Sparks.
The Sparks kept up with the Aces in that game even though they were outscored in the second quarter 18-8.
Maria Vadeeva led the way for the Sparks in scoring with 24 points on 11-20 field goals.
The Aces were able to pull out a 60-56 win over a shorthanded Seattle Storm. They closed the game on a 7-1 run behind A’ja Wilson’s performance in crunch time on both ends of the floor.
Wilson made a contested layup to put the Aces up 57-55 and was fouled when grabbing a rebound on the other end of the floor. With 19 seconds remaining, Wilson made 1 of 2 free throws then blocked an attempted three-pointer by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to close out the game for the Aces.
Sparks trending down
Los Angeles has found themselves in a slump due to losing four games in a row with recent losses to the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm.
The Mercury handed the Sparks their fourth straight loss in their meeting on Sunday with a 82-72 defeat.
This was Candace Parker’s third game back with the Sparks and the best showing in her first few games back with the team from her hamstring injury. Parker finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Alana Beard returned on the road trip in Seattle and against the Mercury. Beard was scoreless against the Mercury but her defensive presence on the floor helps the Sparks.
The Sparks worked their way back into the game to bring the deficit to 60-56 after three quarters but DeWanna Bonner made back-to-back threes to pivot the game in the Mercury’s favor.
With Beard and Parker back, the Sparks are looking forward to meshing and getting better for the long run.
“So if you’re only thinking about winning tomorrow’s game, you’re not thinking about being the best that you need to be over time,” Sparks head coach Derek Fisher said in Wednesday’s practice.
Each game is a stepping stone and learning experience for the Sparks in this first season with Fisher.
Fisher stressed some of the keys to the game against the Aces in talking about transition defense and having patience on offense.
Las Vegas has a lot of size up front with Liz Cambage and Wilson. It will be somewhat of a challenge for the Sparks as they are bigs who can run the floor well for the Aces. Getting back on defense back and set and closing the paint will be a focus for the Sparks against those two.
The Sparks will also have to worry about Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum in transition because they are players who shoot the ball from the perimeter and a good rate.
Being locked in at all positions on in transition could stomp the Aces and work in the Sparks’ favor if they are able to protect the paint and perimeter all at once.
Being patient on the offensive end will help the Sparks slow down and think through the offense. The Sparks tend to be stuck on one side of the ball but will need to trust that quality shots will be made by changing sides of the floor multiple times.
This means that the Sparks cannot just rely on one player to be hot but everyone needs an opportunity to contribute and take those good looking shots that the team can live with,
Not solely depending on players like Chelsea Gray or Parker on offense will allow for looser movement so that the Sparks can ease into a better attack.
Los Angeles and the Las Vegas Aces will compete at 7:30 p.m. PT on the Sparks’ Pride Night at Staples Center.