(Los Angeles, CA-Staples Center)— On Tuesday, 6/19, the Sparks returned home from their brief road trip, after adding 2 more wins to their record and giving them an (8-2) overall record. They defeated the Washington Mystics (97-86) then the Chicago Sky (81-72), respectively. So, on this night, the Sparks faced the Indiana Fever, who were currently in last place in the WNBA standings with a (1-10) overall record. However, as the Pros usually say in paraphrase, ‘you can’t take any nights off in this league because when you do, the inevitable may occur.‘ And the Sparks managed to protect their home court with a win they achieved in going away fashion. Final Score: Sparks 74, Fever 59. With the win, their record moved to (9-2). After this single game homestand, they embark on a single game road trip to play the Dallas Wings on Fri. 6/22, and return home to Staples Center on Sunday, 6/24 for their first regular season match-up with the New York Liberty. Tip-off is at 2 pm.
Fever Game Recap: 1st qtr—Both teams traded baskets early and often as they struggled a bit to find their appropriate gear to get it consistently going. Then the Fever strung together a few baskets to take a 9-4 lead. But CP3, who’s been leading the way offensively in the 1st quarter for the past few games, answered with a bucket and then Odyssey Sims scored on a quick Fever turnover after Parker’s basket. It was 13-10 Fever at the 3:30 mark, and moved to 16-12 Fever with 1:33 left. The score was 18-12 with just 28.4 left. Candace Parker, on her way to a double-digit scoring game, set the pace for the Sparks with 8 points. Of signifcance… Nneka Ogwumike was held scoreless. In response to that, Coach Agler platooned Jantel Lavender, Riquna Williams, and Essence Carson into the period to bolster the scoring and the defense. The period ended with an (18-13) advantage for the Fever.
2nd qtr—Sparks struck first to cut the lead to 18-15. Of significance…Rookie Center, Maria Vadeeva entered at the 8:31 mark replacing Ogwumike. After a Fever basket, Riquna Williams, making the most of her minutes, hit a 3-ball from the top of the key, 22-18 Fever. Then she came back and hit her second 3 from just left of her previous shot for a 22-21 score. Next, Candace Parker hit a bucket with 6:05 left cutting the lead to 24-23. Chelsea Gray, always staying busy, then gave the Sparks the lead with a twisting lay-up, 25-24. Gray, after a wicked cross-over, scored on an uncontested lay-up, moving the lead to 27-24, with 5:04 left in the half. Nneka Ogumike’s first basket of the game came at 4:05 boosting the lead to five, 29-24. It grew to 31-24 after a Candace Parker lay-up. Then the Fever answered back and cut the lead to two, 31-29 after a 5 point outburst. #3 Tiffany Mitchell tied it for the Fever on a lay-up. Then Jantel Lavender put the Sparks back up by 2, 35-33. With :15.7 seconds left, Alana Beard blocked the Fever’s, #11 Natalie Achonwa’s, period-ending shot. HALFTIME SCORE: Sparks 35-Fever, 33.
3rd qtr—Odyssey Sims led off the final stanza with a driving lay-up. Candace Parker added a 3-pointer to go up, 40-34 with 8:45 remaining. At 6:18 left, Chelsea Gray hit a 16′ jumper after coming up with a steal. The lead then grew to 10 at 47-37. The Fever then took a time out to talk things over. At 4 minutes left, it was 49-41 Sparks. The Fever’s Erica Wheeler then scored inside cutting it to 6. Chelsea Gray was hitting her mid-range jumper consistently in the period, Jantel Lavender then hit a jumper, 53-43. It was 53-47 with :55 seconds left. Odyssey Sims scored a lay-up with :42 seconds left, 55-49. This score held up to end the period at 55-49, Sparks.
4th qtr—Essence Carson teed it off with a 3 pointer, making it 58-49 to start the period. Of significance…with Ogwumike not hitting her lay-ups, Candace Parker & Chelsea Gray carried the offensive load for the Sparks. Then Ogwumike awoke from her rare “off-night” and scored on a beautiful short bank shot after a great assist from Gray. Gray then continued her offensive pressure tactics with a penetrating drive for a 60-53 lead. A “run-stopping” time out was then taken by the Fever with 4:32 left in the contest. However, the time out did not help as Ogwumike went the length of the court after a steal for an uncontested lay-up, making it 64-53. On their next possession, the Sparks fast-break paid off with a shooting foul drawn by Odyssey Sims, increasing the lead to (13) at 66-53, with 3:45 left. A Jantel Lavender jumper made it 68-53 with 2:56 left. A Chelsea Gray lay-up boosted the lead 70-54 with 1:20 left and the victory was secured. Then, as the clock was winding down, Riquna Williams made a driving lay-up for her 10th point of the game, 72-55, Sparks. Maria Vadeeva, who had been inserted for a bit more playing time, was fouled with just :02 seconds left and went to the free throw line to shoot a pair. And, the 6-4 southpaw made both for the 74-55 FINAL.
Sparks Game StatLine: Candace Parker/15 pts/5 rebs/2 assts/3 blocks; Chelsea Gray/14 pts/5 rebs/7 assts/2 steals/1 block; Nneka Ogwumike/12 pts/7 rebs/3 assts/1 steal/1 block; Riquna Williams/10 pts/4-6 FGA/2-4 (3-Pt) FGA/played 14:08 mins; and Jantel Lavender/9 pts/5 rebs/1 steal/played 17:36 mins. Maria Vadeeva/2 pts/2-2 FTAs/played 4:24 minutes. Game Attendance: 8,857
Photo Gallery Credits: Anthony Ramirez, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions