The Los Angeles Sparks avenged their Friday loss to the Las Vegas Aces in a 87-71 defeat Sunday at Staples Center.
Five players for the Sparks finished in double figures, two of those coming off the bench.
Nneka Ogwumike played for the first time after missing three consecutive games due to a back injury. The injury occurred during the June 24th game against New York Liberty, where she took a hard elbow to the back in the second half of the game.
“We found out this [Sunday] morning she would be playing and her energy and competitiveness really helps out,” Agler said.
“She’s a great communicator. She’ll communicate on the floor if she’s playing, and communicate when she’s on the bench. Always really positive when it comes to Nneka.”
Sparks Get Well Balanced Attack
Jantel Lavender, Chelsea Gray, Candace Parker, Ogwumike, and Odyssey Sims scored more than 10 points Sunday afternoon. Lavender led the way, coming off the bench to score 17, a season high for the Sparks’ center.
“It gives a chance to keep some of our starters rested,” said Agler on the Sparks’ depth.
“Odyssey [Sims] and Jantel [Lavender] had great games today and that’s huge for us. I’m hoping we will settle into a rotation and stick to that.”
The Sparks, in this game, started much better, jumping out to a big lead. Gray scored six of her 13 points in those opening moments, drilling two three pointers in LA’s early run.
Las Vegas, however, quickly found their footing. They were right back in it, tying the game up at 14, six and a half minutes into the contest. One thing that aided the Sparks early, was that A’ja Wilson picked up two quick fouls, forcing her to play just 3 minutes and 27 seconds in the first. Wilson was perhaps the main reason why her team won Friday night, without her, the Aces struggled.
“I probably just learned that I can’t let it carry over. I have to keep pushing through. My team needs me and it’s selfish of me to not push through if I don’t,” said Wilson on her foul trouble.
Parker drilled a three point shot that started a run that gave the Sparks a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sims Key Catalyst
Los Angeles imposed their will at the start of the second, with Sims the key catalyst. She scored seven points during the second frame on 3-3 shooting from the field. Sims helped extend the Sparks advantage to 15, as they cruised to a 22-point advantage when halftime came.
In that first half, the Sparks shot a mind boggling 73.5% from the field, draining 25 of 34 shot attempts.
It took Vegas nearly three and a half minutes before they found a point coming out of the locker room, as Wilson hit a free throw attempt. Wilson sparked an Aces run that got her team back in the game, trimming Los Angeles’ lead to 15. Their efforts were stopped, however, when Parker drilled a three, putting LA up by 18 once again.
Lavender and Maria Vadeeva essentially ended any chance for the Aces when the pair sank back-to-back baskets. Then, Lavender hit another bucket with 2:49 remaining seal the win for the Sparks.
The LA Sparks play their second game against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night. This game will get underway at 7:30 PM at the Staples Center.