Los Angeles Sparks

Sparks’ use big third quarter to level the season series with the Dallas Wings

Los Angeles evened the season series at one with the Dallas Wings their matinee game on Thursday afternoon.

The Sparks defeated the Dallas Wings 69-64 behind an energetic effort in the second half despite being riddled with missing players.

In their previous meeting to start their last road trip, Dallas was the victor in their Camp Day game. Los Angeles flipped the script on the Wings in this game.

Chiney Ogwumike and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt matched the energy from the exuded from the crowds of children in attendace.

“I mean, they were really loud. It was really great to hear it loud whether it’s screaming or screeching,” Sparks rookie guard Marina Mabrey said.

“Either way, I love it.”

The Sparks wanted to captitalize on the camp kids’ enthusiasm and play with some life. In the first half, they were cheering loud in support but Dallas was still able to have their way with the Sparks.

Riquna Williams, who began her 10-game suspension, was missed on the offensive side of the ball. The Sparks on that end were slow to start until Marina Mabrey strung along some high-energy plays to keep the team within reach starting the second frame.

The bulk of Mabrey’s points came during this time. She led all scorers with 10 points on 2-3 shots from beyond the arc and finished the game with 12 points.

“She kept us in the game offensively in the second quarter, especially. She did a really good job of being aggressive,” Nneka Ogwumike said about Mabrey’s performance.

Dallas shot 50 percent from the field during the opening half and held a 10-point lead at halftime. The Wings’ suffocating defense led to overthinking from Los Angeles that plagued the team in the first half.

The largest deficit in the game was 16 points in the second for Dallas. Imani McGee-Stafford scored on a turnaround jumper to make it a 39-23 advantage.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles shot 37.9 percent from the field in the first half. Dallas’ long length allowed them to dominate in the paint as they outscored Los Angeles 20-12 in that area.

Sparks come out on fire

A different Sparks team came out of the locker room to start the second half. The Sparks dominanted the third, outscoring the Wings 24-9. Six-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike had a big impact.

Ogwumike finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals. This was Ogwumike’s 13th time hitting double figures and fifth time notching a 20+ point game.

It was a total team effort as the little things mattered on both ends of the floor. The Sparks were the dominating team in the third. They communicated with one another defensively and moved the ball around on offense well.

“You can impact the game even if you’re not scoring,” Ogwumike, who had 13 points in the third, said.

The Sparks carried their dominant play into the final quarter. The Wings kept within distance but the Sparks were able to hold them off in the closing minutes of the game.

Despite getting into early foul trouble, Chelsea Gray, who had three fouls in the opening half, finished the game with 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Chiney Ogwumike had 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

Los Angeles finished the game with a 38.3 field goal percentage and scored 18 points off of 17 turnovers by Dallas. Los Angeles outscored Dallas in second chance points 11-9.

The Sparks extended their winning streak to three in this win against the Wings and improved to 10-7 on the season.

With five players out due to injury or suspsension, the Sparks signed Karlie Samuelson to a seven-game deal for added depth. Samuelson played with the Sparks in her rookie season in 2018 and returned to the team after being the final roster cut out of training camp.

Next up

Los Angeles hit the road again and travel to New York and Atlanta prior to the All-Star break. The Sparks play the New York Liberty at 12:00 PM PT on Saturday.

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