(Los Angeles, CA-Staples Center)–-The L.A. Sparks finally got it all together and found their best team rhythm of the season when they played to a crowd of 10,295 adoring fans on “Pride Night’ and posted a huge “W” over their desert enemy, the Las Vegas Aces, to move their record to (5-6). The final score, Sparks 86, Aces 74.
Celebrity Courtside Watch: NFL’s Von Miller, 3 x First-team All-Pro/Outside Linebacker, Denver Broncos. Note From the Editor: Our production includes a game write-up, our “up-close” photo gallery, and our “post-game” video player interviews withTierra Ruffin-Pratt, Alana Beard, and Kalani Brown. There’s also a post-game press conference with Head Coach Derek Fisher. If you would like to share your comments on the team with us, please do so by calling (323) 723-2830. Thanks in advance!
1st Qtr— The Sparks came out of the gate slowly with the starting five of Candace Parker, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Chelsea Gray, Riquna Williams, and Chiney Ogwumike. The Aces put up a quick 7 point lead (9-2) and by the 5 minute mark, the hustling Sparks had cut the lead to only four. With 2:30 left they trailed by just four, (16-12). Kalani Brown came in off the bench and provided some good offensive energy. Chelsea Gray then nailed a 3- pointer to make it (16-15), Aces. She came back and a hit step-back jumper to give the Sparks their first brief lead of the game only to lose it on a 15′ period-ending “buzzer beater” by the Aces. The score at the end of the 1st quarter, Aces 17, Sparks 16. Of Significance…Coach Fisher had to tweak his line-up when Nneka Ogwumike could not go due to a game-time decision.
2nd Qtr—Candace Parker re-entered the game with Marina Mabrey. Gray hit an off-balance lean ing twister underneath and drew the foul. She then added the free throw for a (20-18) lead. CP3 then drove hard to the hoop for a lay-up, (22-18). Gray answered an Aces 3 point shot with a drive, (24-21). A beautiful open court “give-and-go” executed from Beard to Mabrey for a lay-up off a turnover made it (26-21). Parker then made an incredible assist to Chiney Ogwumike under the basket as she fell out of bounds, for a (28-21) lead. The bright chemistry began for the Sparks on this 2:20 run. After a time-out, the Sparks kept up the offensive pressure when CP3 hit a runner in the lane, (30-21). She then came back with a deep 3 pointer, (33-23). But Liz Cambage was going to work as well. Riquna Williams hit a lay-up as the teams traded baskets. At the 5:02 mark, the score was (35-25), Sparks. Cambage and McBride combined efforts and hit for 5 quick points, making it 35-30. Another time-0ut was taken at 2:53. Cambage then scored underneath to cut the lead to (35-32). CP3 was fouled on a 3 point try at 1:53. All attempts were good for (38-32) lead. A’ja Wilson went underneath and scored on a lay-up after a Sparks time-out (38-34). A back and forth tempo suited both teams as time wound down in the half. Then after three consecutive Sparks shots at the bucket, Kalani Brown hit a “buzzer beater” on a put-back underneath. It was placed under review but the bucket was counted for a (40-34) Sparks halftime lead.
HALFTIME SCORE: Sparks 40 Aces 34
3rd Qtr—There was no score till Chiney Ogwumike hit a shot from up close, making it (42-34), at the 8:40 mark. Liz Cambage then hit a short put back. Chelsea Gray scored, then Cambage hit again, followed in sequence by Tierra Ruffin-Pruitt (TRP) hiting a timely 3 pointer, (47-38). Ruffin-Pruitt answered an Aces 3 point shot with her 2nd 3-pointer, (50-41) with 6:40 left. With the 3 point light on, A’ja Wilson hit a 3 pointer, making it (50-43). Time-out Sparks at 5:38 left. TRP was fouled and hit 2 free throws, (52-43). Kalani Brown was inserted into the entered the game for height and strength purposes. Cambage score again underneath for (52-45) margin. Wilson scored on jumper, (52-47). Chelsea Gray hit her step-back jumper, (54-47). At 3:51 Brown was whistled for a Personal Foul that immediately went under officials review for flagrancy. A Technical Foul was issued against Brown, and a Flagrant Foul against Cambage for pulling Brown’s hair. Brown hit 2 free throws after the Aces made just one for a score (56-48). Sparks were awarded the ball out-of-bounds. To the fans delight, Brown answered with a timely turn-around 6 footer, (58-48), that coming with 3:26 left. Riquna Williams nicely muscled her way in for a twisting lay-up “And 1” moving the score to (61-48). The Sparks then started to step on the gas, when CP3 dribbled the length of the court and found Brown wide open underneath, but she lost the entry pass. Alertly, CP3 got the rebound on the next attempt and was fouled. She made both for a (62-48) lead. It was (62-51) after an ACEs 3-pointer. With :47 seconds left, Mabrey was called for a foul as she tried to tie up Cambage. Officials placed it under review. Result was negative. Brown stayed persistent on going up for put-backs and drew a shooting foul on Cambage. She made 2 free throws. Williams then brought the crowd to its feet when she hit a 30′ “buzzer beater” jumper to close the period, (66-53). Of Significance...Sparks outscored the Aces, 26-19.
4th Qtr—Williams started the scoring with anothr 3 pointer, (69-53). CP3 followed that with a 10′ turn-around “J” from the right side, (71-53). Mabrey then hit a lay-up on the next possession for a (73-55). Of Noted Game Significance…CP3’s return to form. She was the Big Game difference maker. After an Aces basket, Coach Fisher called a time-out at 7:53. Williams then hit her second 3-pointer of the game for a (76-57) advantage and the Sparks began to pull away. Gray ended a (6-0) Aces run with her patented step-back “J” for a (78-65) with 4:05 left. Williams was still on fire for another 3 pointer giving her 18 points in the game, (81-67) with 3:11 remaining. This moved the score to (81-70) with 2 minutes left. It was all Academic from there as the final score would show a comfortable 12 point win for the Sparks. Pride Night was a big success and all fans left Staples Center feeling very good and extremely proud of their team.
FINAL SCORE: Sparks 86 Aces 74
Sparks Game Stats: Candace Parker/18 pts/9 rebs/3 assts/4 stls/3 blks/(2-4) 3-pt. attmpts; Riquna Williams/18 pts/6 rebs/2 assts/(3-6) 3-pt attmpts; Chelsea Gray/18 pts/4 rebs/6 assts/(8-17) FG attmpts; Kalani Brown/12 pts/4 rebs/1 block/1 asst (4-10) FG attmpts; Tierra Ruffin-Pratt/8 pts/2 rebs/1 asst/1 block/(2-3) 3-pt attmpts; Chiney Ogwumike/6 pts/10 rebs/1 stl/1 block.
Next Up: Chicago Sky, Sunday, 6/30. Tip-off at 2 pm.