The Los Angeles Sparks (9-2) extended their winning streak to five on Tuesday night after downing the Indiana Fever (1-11) for the second time this season. In their latest meeting, Los Angeles needed a comeback to get the victory, winning 74-55 at the Staples Center.
Sparks Struggle Out of the Gate
Their victory should be credited to how well the Sparks played on the defensive side of the ball. Holding Indiana to only 55 points is quite the feat. The Fever shot a merely 30% from the field as a team, making only 21 attempts from the field, while committing 17 turnovers to boot.
Against a team like Los Angeles, that was never going to get the job done. The Sparks are too good on offense to have that poor of a shooting performance.
Because of the swarming defense, Los Angeles’ stars didn’t need to have their best offensive night, in order to come out victorious. Candace Parker only managed 15 points, Nneka Ogwumike contributed 14, while Chelsea Gray added 12 more points.
“Just by defense and intensity. I think that Odyssey [Sims] set the tone playing defense on Kelsey Mitchell which is their, you know, the head of their attack.
So if she can’t get into offense easy and she’s getting turned left and right, it’s kinda hard for her to see things and so that set the tone and everybody else follows through. And I think that was the key to our great half,” Jantel Lavender when asked about having a full roster.
Lavender also had her best game of the season with the Sparks. She had nine points on the night, the most since her return from Turkey. But Lavender looked more like her old self, hauling down five rebounds and notching one assist too.
“I’m just getting more comfortable running the play, working with the team a little bit more because obviously you go from one set of a bunch of different systems and you come here and we play completely different.
So it’s just an adjustment and now i’m starting to fit in a little bit,” Lavender said.
It didn’t always look like the Sparks were going to run away in this game. They started slowly in the opening ten minutes. The ball was not moving as crisp as it had been and their shooting was off a bit. In fact, the stats confirm that notion, as LA only sank six buckets, shooting at only 30%.
The Comeback Is On
The Fever pushed their lead further to begin the second. But then Los Angeles’ picked up, even after struggling to get out of the gate again. Riquna Williams, who has been playing some of her best basketball, sank back-to-back threes to ignite a Sparks’ run.
To finish off an 8-0 run, Gray flashed exquisite ball handling skills before finishing with an easy layup. Jantel Lavender, who is still struggling to find her form after missing the first four games of the season, due to overseas obligations, sank a jump shot that gave the Sparks the lead at halftime.
In the locker room, Brian Agler must have talked about seizing control of the game, because his squad went on another run to increase the Sparks advantage to start the second half. This run gave Los Angeles a double digit lead for the first time, capped off by Parker’s only three pointer of the night.
“We knew our third quarter coming out was big for us, so we just tried to extend the lead and keep the lead,” Odyssey Sims said.
Indiana were not going away quietly, punching back each time the Sparks looked to close out the game. The Fever managed to trim the lead to six with under a minute to go in the third. They answered the call again in the fourth, when Indiana drilled two straight buckets to get within five points.
There was one last run in this game and it came from the Sparks. To close out Indiana once and for all, Los Angeles scored 12 straight points to increase their advantage to 17. Maria Vadeeva finished off the night by sinking her only two free throw attempts.
News & Notes
Sydney Wise did not play because of a sprained knee and is officially listed as day-to-day from the Sparks PR. However, Brian Agler said the she may be “done”, as she’s currently dealing with “knee issues”.
Candace Parker and company hit the road again this week when they take on the Dallas Wings at 5:00 PM.