(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The Sparks are nearing their 10th full WBNBA game of the season and it’s apparent that they are capable of playing winning basketball with good, hard-earned victories, as they demonstrated to their fans, over their initial Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm home games.
A brand new opponent entered the Crypto,com Arena on this June 9th, Friday night, in the name the Chicago Sky, former WNBA Champions in 2021.
Let’s get into the recap of the game and give you our “words-eye” account of how it all played out, to the best of our abilities.
[1st Qtr]: The starting line-up of the Sparks remained the same as the previoud, with the exception of #13/Chiney Ogwumike, out with a foot injury. Head Coach Curt Miller then opted to start #5/Dearica Hamby. A great and timely move as was evidenced by her performance not only as a back-up to Chiney, but also earning the extra time on the court playing with Nneka, would be a big lift to Hamby’s confidence and additional contributions to the team.
The game intensity tone was set with the opening play after the jump ball, when during a loose ball situation, #25/Layshia Clarendon, earned herself a forced turnover with a recovery in the Sky’s front court. #5/Dearica Hamby and Captain, #30/Nneka Ogwumike powered the Sparks for the start of the period and led scorers with (9) and (7 )respectively. A pesky defense was shown by the other starters in #4/Lexie Brown and #21/Jordin Canada with their ball-hawking and help-side defense. Coach Miller saw fit to sub in his established reserves with his 3-point specialist, #44/Karlie Samuelson, his newly acquired veterans, #15/Big Guard/Jasmine Thomas, and #23/Forward/Azurá Stevens, who were finally seen by the home crowd. At the end of the period, the Sparks had put up 20 points to Chicago’s 12.
[2nd Qtr]: A nice rotation of personnel by Coach Miller and his staff turned into a good dividend as the team’s rhythm started to unfold with Canada at the controls. The momentum stayed with the Sparks as they remained ahead till the end of the period. A good mixture of defense and offense was slowly but surely becoming a character trait of the team. The Sparks were outscored in the period by a margin of (21-17) but that would be the only time that occurred in the game. The Sparks took the halftime scoring advantage into their locker room.
[HALF-TIME SCORE]: Sparks 37 Chicago Sky 33
[3rd Qtr]: The teams went “Back ‘n Forth” with baskets but at the (6:40) minute mark, the Sky tied the game at (41-41) on a 3-pointer by former Sparks player, Marina Mabry. Coach Miller immediately called a “momentum-stopping” time-out to talk things over just a bit. Then, for the first time in this writer’s Sparks game-covering memory, a healthy “Fan-WAVE” broke out in Crypto.com Arena. The period finished with the Sparks outscoring the Sky by 6, (21-15), ending it in a score of (58-48).
[4th Qtr]: The continued excellent play of the Sparks nucleus at the front court and the back court positions proved to be the deciding factor in this match-up. Canada, Brown, and Cooke, were vibing off of each other on both sides of the ball, while N. Ogwumike and Hamby took care of scoring in clutch time to maintain a lead. Their points, in concert with their steals, for a total of (7), made the difference in the team’s 5th victory. The Sparks managed to keep their comfortable lead in the final quarter, and then easily pulled away for the win.
[FINAL SCORE]: Sparks 77 Chicago Sky 62 [ATTENDANCE]: 5,431
[OF SIGNIFICANCE]: The veteran and very durable Nneka Ogwumike finished with yet another “Double-Double” of (19) points, (14) boards and then add on (5) assists plus (2) steals to her night’s outstanding performance. Also putting up very big numbers were Hamby with (16) points-(8) boards-(5) steals and Canada, who contributed (16 points-5 boards-5 assists). L. Brown and K. Samuelson both had (7) points while Rookie, Zia Cooke, and Jasmine Thomas contributed (5) points each.
The continuing and improved play of the starting unit and the contributions of the reserves who saw very good minutes of playing time in a close and competitive match-up were all keys to the victory.
[ROAD GAMES]: The first was against the Minnesota Lynx, on 6/11, which they lost by the score of (96-81), and then on Wednesday, 6/14, they defeated the Dallas Wings, (79-61).
The Sparks, now the owners of (5-4) record, return to Crypto.com Arena tonight, Friday, 6/16 to host the Minnesota Lynx, with their record of (2-7) and an 11th place standing. They remain at home for the big Father’s Day match-up at 4:30 pm, when they face the Connecticut Sun, (8-3) currently in 2nd place in the WNBA Standings, on the date of this publishing.