Los Angeles Sparks

Sparks Can’t Find Rhythm in Loss to Dallas

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Sparks and the Dallas Wings faced off for the third time this season. After splitting the first two, the Wings took the third game from the Sparks at the Staples Center, winning 92-77.

For the Wings, Skylar Diggins-Smith recorded 22 points, and 11 assists, while Dallas shot 50% from the field. Candace Parker led the Sparks with 21 points and 7 rebounds, with the team shooting 43.5%.

Dallas opened up the game with a 9-4 advantage, giving them confidence early, especially on the road. With 3:23 left in the first quarter and the Wings leading 15-9, Riquna Williams drained Los Angeles’ first 3-pointer, cutting the lead down to only four.

Parker added two free throws which brought the Sparks within one. However, Skylar Diggins-Smith came down the court finding Alisha Gray open. Then, Gray knocked down the basket, pushing Dallas’ advantage again to 17-14. The first frame ended with the two sides exchanging baskets, as the Wings led 21-19.

Kayla George and Azurá Stevens scored consecutive baskets to start the second quarter to push the Wings’ edge farther ahead. Chelsea Gray and Jantel Lavender responded with shots of their own keeping the deficit within four points.

Dallas Takes Charge in Second Half

Dallas, though, were able to extend the lead to ten after two back-to-back lay-ups from Liz Cambage.  The Sparks’ Williams quickly responded once more with two consecutive three’s at the five-minute mark. Her shots from behind the arc brought the Sparks close again. With 2:53 left in the opening half, Odyssey Sims and Nneka Ogwumike tied the game at 40.

Cambage was thrown out of the game at the two minute mark after arguing with the refs over a missed foul call after scoring in the post. Contributions from Ogwumike and Parker sent the Sparks into the locker room up 50-48.

Diggins-Smith helped the Wings regained a 53-52 advantage coming out of halftime. Ogwumike tied the game back up at the free throw line, but Stevens gave the Wings a 61-57 lead. Diggins-Smith, hit back-to-back threes and extended their team’s advantage to six with just under three minutes left in the third. Lavender responded, though, with a long-range two-pointer, which trimmed Dallas’ edge to five.

Dallas took over the fourth which was capitalized by an 11-0 run. pushing their lead to 12. Despite a steal and basket from Gray, the Wings continued their dominance and went on another run 10-0, taking a 20-point lead with 1:23 left in the game, icing the contest.

Losing Beard

Alana Beard exited the game with a pulled groin just five minutes into the contest and did not return. Her presence was truly missed, especially on the defensive end of the court.

“Losing [Alana Beard], we thrive off that, she’s the head of our defense, she gets us going. We just got to pick up what she left out. We know how to defend; it’s all about effort.”

Diggins-Smith Takes Over

With Cambage ejected from the game in the second quarter, Diggins-Smith stepped up and lead her team to victory. She made key shots from behind the three point line throughout the game and distributed the ball which , accounting for 11 major dimes.

“When Liz went down, all of us came in here at halftime and just talked about how we all needed to step it up and be a little more aggressive on defense,” Diggins-Smith said.

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