The L.A. Sparks defeated the Connecticut Sun 70-69 at Staples Center yesterday. Aaron Fischman was covering the game for Swish Appeal for a forthcoming feature story and provided the following notes on the game.
- Kristi Toliver's only field goal and lone points of the game accounted for the game-winner, a 3-point basket that gave the Sparks a 70-69 lead with 9.6 seconds left. Toliver's clutch basket followed six previous misses from her.
- With 29.8 seconds remaining, the Sparks trailed 68-62. First, Alana Beard made a 3-pointer to cut LA's deficit to three points. Then, after Renee Montgomery split a pair of free throws, Candace Parker hit her only second-half bucket, a timely hook shot to make the game 69-67. Trailing by two points and scrambling to purposely foul, Nneka Ogwumike intercepted Alyssa Thomas' pass and swung the ball to Candice Wiggins who found Kristi Toliver open for 3. On the other end, after Montgomery's midrange jumper failed to fall, the buzzer sounded and LA came away with the improbable comeback victory.
- Despite scoring just six points on 3-of-9 shooting in the first half, Sun rookie Chiney Ogwumike recorded 17 second-half points on 8-of-10 field goals and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds (including six offensive boards).
- While Sparks forward Parker played 35 minutes, she was uncharacteristically passive throughout the game. She finished with just nine points, four rebounds, and a just-as-surprising zero assists. She was especially quiet in the second half. Coming into the game, the reigning WNBA MVP boasted averages of 19.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists. After playing more than 38 minutes in Seattle eight days prior, Parker, who has been slowed by a strained left knee as of late, was rested during LA's previous two games on Monday and Tuesday night.
- The Sparks outshot the Sun, 47.5 to 38.6 percent, while the Sun won the rebounding battle, 40-32. Led by Chiney Ogwumike, who grabbed six offensive rebounds, the Sun grabbed 13 offensive boards that resulted in 16 second-chance points and outscored LA 16-4 in that department.
- Hampered by early foul trouble, Alana Beard was limited to less than 11 first-half minutes, along with two points and one assist. However, she came up big in the second half, playing all but 1:26 of the half and finishing with 18 points and three assists.
- Like the first meeting in Connecticut, Nneka Ogwumike was outscored by her sister but emerged victorious. The older sister's 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists resulted in her seventh double-double of the season. Chiney Ogwumike now has 13 double-doubles, third behind Glory Johnson (16) and Tina Charles (14).
- With the win and a San Antonio loss later in the day, the Sparks have crept into third place in the Western Conference. With a record of 13-15, LA stands just a half game ahead of the Silver Stars, three and a half games ahead of fifth-place Tulsa and nine games behind the second-place Lynx.
- After Sunday's loss, the Sun remain in the Eastern Conference basement but only two games behind the fourth-place Liberty. They are also one and a half games behind the Chicago Sky, who beat the Mystics on Sunday.
- Sparks wing Armintie Herrington left the game early in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury and did not return. A team official did say she was OK.
- Candace Parker's nine-point effort snapped her 32-game streak of scoring in double-digits.
Fischman is an editor and contributing feature writer for Cowbell Kingdom, ESPN True Hoop's Sacramento Kings website. In 2013, the Los Angeles native earned his master's in Print and Digital Journalism from USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism after graduating from UC Davis two years prior. In 2013 and 2014, he won third place at the LA Press Club Awards for features on NBA Summer League and BMX racing, respectively. He also currently serves as Lead Editor for The Lottery Mafia, an NBA site on the Bloguin Network.