Sparks get surprising win despite missing key players
With Los Angeles coming off of a loss to the New York Liberty and Washington just recently beating the first place Seattle Storm, the momentum seemed to be in the Mystics favor going into Thursday night. Add in the fact that neither Ogwumike sister was playing, and the outlook was slim for LA.
It is pretty much inevitable that Tina Charles will put up numbers, but holding her to 25 and 10 is actually impressive for the Sparks’ bigs. It was the defense of the LA guards that stole the show, however, holding Ariel Atkins to 3/14 shooting from the field as the Sparks forced 20 turnovers.
With all of the injuries, the question became who would lead the offense for Los Angeles, and that question was not answered by the first unit. It was not until the second quarter when the reserves were leading the way that the Sparks began to take over, and when it was all said and done, three of the top four scorers for LA came off the bench.
The leader of the pack was second year guard Te’a Cooper, who not only had a career high with 26 points on 10/15 shooting, but set the Sparks franchise record for points off the bench. I for one doubted this LA team after all of their offseason departures, but if they can get this kind of production from players like Cooper, Brittney Sykes (14 points) and Karlie Samuelson (13 points), then they could make some noise later in the season.
The big question that remains for Washington is when we will see Elena Delle Donne again, and all of those details can be read about here.
Liberty are losing, and it is not pretty
After the scorching hot start to the regular season, New York is 2-7 in their last nine games. If I am the Liberty, what is more concerning is the way in which those losses are occurring. Their last five losses are all by 20+ points, and yesterday’s matchup against the Chicago Sky was effectively over by halftime.
I am still on the Betnijah Laney needs to be taking more shots train, and while Michaela Onyenwere has a convincing case for rookie of the year, she does not and probably should not have to be their leading shooter by volume for the Liberty to maximize their potential.
Once again, credit needs to be given to the opposition. The Sky scored 37 points in the second quarter with contributions from the entire team. Plays like the first clip in this video where every player commands enough respect on offense until their are no more defensive rotations left to make are what separates this Chicago team.
Now winners of seven in a row, the Sky have a legitimate case for four all-stars, and playing the numbers game at least one will most likely get snubbed. Still, this midseason turnaround has been impressive and shows no signs of slowing down.
Indiana loses again, shocker
We harped on it last week so there is no point going into depth on the situation with the Indiana Fever again, but Marianne Stanley is aboard a sinking ship while actively pouring buckets of water into the boat. How you can be 1-14 going into last night’s matchup with Dallas, proceed to go down by double-digits early, and still not give your younger players a chance is beyond me. This could be part of some greater plan that Stanley has planned, but I am not sure at this point if she will be on the bench next season to see it through.
Not to discredit the Wings, as they played one of their most balanced game of the season. The bench outscored the starters with six players in double figures and a perfect 17/17 from the free throw line as a team. Speaking of perfection, Dallas clamped up on defense, securing seven steals and eight blocks. Defensive improvement is a major key for this young team that relies more heavily on their offensive prowess, and they executed last night.