(East Los Angeles, CA)[From The Editor’s Desk]: During the City of Angels tremendous summer time “heat wave” of 2023, temperatures averaged in the 95° and above mark for nearly a week, the L.A. Sparks put two solid “back-to-back” efforts and came away with their second consecutive victory over the Indiana Fever in the matter of two days. It occurred before the biggest crowd of the season when, on their annual “Kids Appreciation Day”, over 11,000 fans were inside of Crypto.com Arena, cheering at a very high-pitched, but youthful decibel level for the entire game.
And certainly not to be overlooked for the outstanding work he does each and every game to energize and motivate the Sparks’ fandom in attendance, “Sparky”, the team’s beloved mascot, celebrated his birthday on this date. The Team made sure that a special birthday cake was brought out at halftime to commemorate this special day in the life of their great mascot.
And finally, to speak about the synergy and the crowd’s mood inside of Crypto.com Arena, it was quite a festive and enjoyable site to see the huge and youthful crowd on this matinee start time of 12:30 pm really have a great time at a WNBA, Spark’s basketball game. The game attendance was due in very large part to the franchise’s annual outreach to the hundreds of Boys’ and Girls’ youth basketball clubs located within our City and County’s boundaries. All in all, it was a very triumphant day inside of the Crypto.com Arena.
[LOOK WHO’S HERE CAM]: Tierra Ruffin-Pratt/former Sparks player; Saturday Night Live (SNL) Veterans/Actors, Kenan Thompson and Leslie Jones.
[1st Qtr]: The game got off to a good and even start by both squads. The Sparks were anchored as usual, by their All-Star forward, #30/Nneka Ogwumike, who put up 9 points in the period. Teammate and Center #23/Azuré Stevens had 4 points, #25/Layshia Clarendon, bouncing back into the starting line-up had a 3 pointer, Point guard, #21/Jordin Canada only had 4 points, but was credited with 4 assists. The Fever were led by their point guard, #17/Erica Wheeler, with 6, two-guard, #0/Kelsey Mitchell, had 5 and their All-Star Center, #17/Allyah Boston had 4 points with 1 blocked shot. Scoring totals for the 1st period, Sparks 22 Fever 18.
[2nd Qtr]: The Sparks continued to play confidently and competitively as they kept their scoring rhythm going. They managed to maintain at least a 4-6 point lead through the period till the final minute. All eight players that Coach Miller used in the period put up points and carried the team to a 23 point production. On the other side of the coin, Allyah Boston, led the Fever with 10, Erica Wheeler chipped in with 10 also, while#3/Kristy Wallace added 8, and Kelsey Mitchell scored 7 for their total of (35) of the team’s (39) points in the half. Ogwumike had 15 to lead the Sparks.
[HALF-TIME SCORE]: Sparks 45 Fever 39
[3rd Qtr]: Another good start of a period by the Sparks stretched their lead to 10 with (8:00) minutes remaining. N. Ogqumike stayed hot and the Sparks began to capitalize on their defense and scored off forced and unforced turnovers which led to timely scores. In a “play of the game” move, a great basket was scored by Canada after a perfect assist on a lead pass from the backcourt by Clarendon found her teammate in stride for an uncontested lay-up, making it (51-44) with 6:00 minutes left.
Fortunately for the Fever, a Media Time-out was taken with (5:37) left in period which broke the Sparks momentum after that run with the scoreboard reading, Sparks 53, Fever, 44. On their next possession, Canada was fouled again on her shot and awarded an “And 1” which she completed for a ten point lead at (56-46) with (4:45) left. Ogwumike hit 2 free throws and moved the score to (58-46). Canada once again penetrated the defense and scored on a lay-up moving the score to (60-46) with (3:30) left. Wallace answered with 3 49. Clarendon hit a lay-up for a (62 -51) scvorte with (2:00) minutes left. Canada was fouled extremely hard on a shot in the key, but picked herself back up and dropped in the 2 free throws with (1:27) left and the score now (64-51). #5/Center/Dearica Hamby made 2 free throws with just (.54.6) seconds on the clock for a (66-53) read. But the Fever’s offense was very limited by the Sparks defense, and that was difference in the period as the visitors could only put up 14 points, in comparison to the Sparks 21 .
[4th Qtr]: It was the solid 1-2 punch of Ogwumike and Canada that spelled the downfall of the Fever, as they both took turns dominating as well as sharing the feeling that this was going to be a game that went into the win column. Ogwumike finished with (25) points, (9) points, (2) block shots and (3) steals for a great day’s work. Canada, recorded (21) points, (7) assists, and (4)rebounds. The pair carried the scoring load down the stretch to the winner’s circle and with (5:34) left, a Media Time-out stopped the gush of points, sparing the Fever from using one of theirs. It was now a (70-57) score, favoring the Sparks who basically put everything on cruise control. For the Fever they relied on the play of Wheeler, who finished with (17) points, Boston with (12 points), Kristy Wallace (13), and reserve, #34/Grace Berger with (10) points, to keep them within arm’s reach, but never threatening to pull even. The Sparks win big on Kids Appreciation Day and Sparky’s Birthday to notched their 2nd win a row and move their record to (9-15)and climbed up the standings a bit to 9th place, to tie with the Chicago Sky. Both of them are ahead of the Phoenix Mercury, the Indiana Fever, and the Seattle Storm.
[FINAL SCORE]: Sparks 81 Fever 68
[OF SIGNIFICANCE]: The overall team defensive effort, giving up only 68 points in the contest, and the Dynamic Duo, of Jordin Canada and Nneka Ogwumike who performed a great basketball clinic for the thousands of happy youth who attended the game and had one of the best times of their lives on this Hot Summer Day in L.A!
[NEXT UP]: New York Liberty, Sunday, July 30th, at 1:00 pm. The game will be carried on ESPN.