The Los Angeles Sparks finally ended their four-game losing streak with an 86-74 victory over the Las Vegas Aces behind an energized performance, with three players scoring 18 points to lead the way.
Throughout their four-game losing skid, there were moments in which the Sparks had high energy plays. However, they often quickly dwindled due to the opposition having a swift response and maintaining their own runs.
Against the Aces, the Sparks were the ones to flip the script, playing with an edge in physicality and competitiveness throughout the whole game.
“This game requires a lot of energy because playing 40 minutes of really hard and competitive basketball requires a ready body and mind,” Sparks head coach Derek Fisher said post-game.
“If we don’t practice things, it’s hard to sustain during the game.”
Sparks come out aggressive
The Sparks were able to take their aggressiveness in practice from Wednesday and translate it against the Aces on both ends of the floor.
On the offensive end, the Sparks were patient with the ball, which allowed them to move more freely. By doing so, the Sparks found better opportunities on offense against the Aces and knocked down some quality shots.
Riquna Williams hit a three-pointer off an assist from Chelsea Gray to give the Sparks a 14-point 81-67 lead with 3:31 remaining in the game. On that possession, the Sparks took their time , moving the around which got Williams a good look to drill.
Williams finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and two assists.
In addition to the scoring for the Sparks, they were able to beat the Aces quarter by quarter. The Sparks in the first three quarters, they did not allow the Aces to score any more than 20 points per quarter.
The team’s energy on the defensive end of the floor was very active as they kept their attention on the guards and bigs for Las Vegas. The Sparks held the Aces to a 31.2 percentage from three-point range on 5-16 shots.
The Sparks held the Aces’ guards in Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young to 2-17 from the field.
Brown unafraid of backing down
The defensive assignment for Kalani Brown against Liz Cambage was a welcomed challenge for the Sparks’ rookie. Brown went from admiring Cambage to competing against her with some fight and aggression within her.
Brown held her own in not letting Cambage overpower her. The physicality and aggressiveness came to a head with under four minutes left in the third quarter.
Brown and Cambage got tangled up on a play in which Cambage pulled Brown’s hair. As a reflex, Brown took exception to the action and pushed Cambage. Brown was assessed a technical foul and Cambage received a flagrant.
Brown was an enforcer in the game and stayed the course against Cambage as she was able to maneuver in the paint, both scoring and defending. Brown finished with 12 points and four rebounds.
In her fourth game back, Candace Parker looked like herself again as she finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and three assists.
Parker looked comfortable shooting the ball going 6-12 from the field, making two three-pointers. Despite having a team-high nine turnovers, Parker was aggressive and she shot the ball with some ease.
Parker passed Delisha Milton-Jones for 9th place on the all-time rebounds list with 2,575. Parker also became the third player in Sparks’ history to reach 400 steals behind only Lisa Leslie (490) and Milton Jones (440).
Alana Beard passed 700 career steals and joins Tamika Catchings (1074) and Ticha Penicheiro (764).
Chelsea Gray finished with 18 points, six assists, and four rebounds. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had eight points on 2-3 three-pointers and two rebounds. Chiney Ogwumike had six points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Los Angeles moves to a 5-6 record and evens the season series with Las Vegas 1-1.
The Sparks will play the Chicago Sky on Sunday at 2 p.m. PT.