(Los Angeles, CA.–Staples Center) Game Preview: The Sparks came into this match-up after taking a one point home loss to the Connecticut Sun on 7/3 and then losing on the road to the Minnesota Lynx on 7/5. In returning home, they then had to gear up for a visit by the Eastern Conference’s Washington Mystics (12-5) on a rare Saturday matinee game that tipped off at 4 pm. The Sparks (12-7) were looking to start a new home-court winning streak after losing two-in-a-row for the first time this season. The Mystics were led into the contest by All-WNBA vets, Elena Delle Donne and former Sparks guard, Kristi Toliver, who was a member of the 2016 World Champion Team.
Game Recap: 1st Q— The Mystics played strongly and competitively to start the game and maintained that style of play throughout the first quarter. They ended the quarter with a 5 point lead, at 19-14. Give Ariel Atkins and LaToya Sanders credit for the bulk of their scoring, combining for 13 of their 19 points. Odyssey Sims and Essence Carson each had 4 points.
2nd Q–The Sparks and Nneka Ogwumike began to figure out the Mystics defensive strategy and put together a strong run in the period when they put up a 10 point scoring advantage (21-11). Ogwumike, Parker, and Gray started to perk up offensively and combined for 13 points. On the defensive side of the ball, the Sparks went into their usual style of play and limited Della Donne and Toliver to just 7 points. Due to this effort, the Sparks maintained a slight, but positive lead going into the locker room at halftime.
HALFTIME SCORE: Sparks 35 Mystics 30
3rd Q—The Sparks stayed ahead of the Mystics throughout most of this period. Of Significance…When an unexpected electrical short-circuit shut down the scoreboard and timing system with 4:31 remaining in the quarter, the game officials had no choice but to halt the game while the Staples Center electrical maintenance crew was summoned court-side to clear up the problem. They finally corrected it, but more than 5 minutes had elapsed before the game resumed. The Sparks were up by 6, (47-41) at that juncture of the game. Upon the resumption of play, their momentum was no longer a factor. And, with just :37.7 seconds left, the Mystics finally went up by 2 when Kristi Toliver hit a jump shot. The score at the end of the stanza was 54-52, Mystics.
4th Q– It was all about the Sparks and their comeback. With 9:01 left in there game, they were down by just 1, but never got closer than 2 for the remainder of the game. Although they made several runs, they just couldn’t put together one that would allow them to re-take the lead. As time wound, the Mystics stretched their lead to 6, then 8, as the quarter approached the 2 minute mark. Of Significance...For the game, the Mystics went to the free throw line 35 times and made 32. The Sparks were 12 for 13. And, although Nneka Ogwumike poured in 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds (for her 5th “double-double”) and Chelsea Gray added 23, it wasn’t enough to offset the cadre of Mystics players who scored at the most opportune times down the stretch to secure the victory.
FINAL SCORE: Mystics 83, Sparks 74. The Sparks record fell to (12-8) while posting their 3rd loss in a row. The Mystics moved to (12-6). Attendance: 10,100
Photo Gallery: Erik Sarni, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions