Arlington, TX — It has been a tale of two very different seasons for the Dallas Wings and the Los Angeles Sparks. It’s the Wings first season in a new city as they are still trying to find their chemistry and fight for a win in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. The Sparks have a lot of history in their city, a lot of experience playing together, and they happen to have the best record in the league.
If Dallas wanted to snap their losing streak against the best team in the league, tonight was a night they could not afford to start slow – and they didn’t.
“I thought we put some pressure on LA early,” said Wings Head Coach Fred Williams. “I thought their size and inside game, especially in the second half, gave us some difficulty.”
After back-and-forth action for the first few minutes, the Wings took over. Aerial Powers come off the bench and grabbed two and-ones to help lead Dallas to a 23-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Nneka Ogwumike was big for Los Angeles in the quarter, but turnovers and missed shots contributed to their slow first quarter. On the other hand, rebounding – much thanks to Glory Johnson who finished with her 7th double-double (16 points, 15 rebounds) of the season – and good ball distribution were keys for the Wings who had five different players get on the board in the quarter.
The challenge for Dallas came in holding onto their lead. During a previous match-up with Los Angeles this season, the Wings blew a 22-point lead, which marked the biggest comeback victory of the season for the Sparks.
It took less than four minutes into the second quarter for Los Angeles to tie the game at 25. They then proceeded to take the lead right back from Dallas thanks to a rainstorm of three-pointers to start the quarter.
Fast-break points helped extend the lead for Los Angeles, which forced the Wings to call a timeout. Powers continued to lead the Wings off the bench for the second straight quarter, but the Sparks always answered at the other end.
Los Angeles took a 43-41 lead into the locker room at halftime, as Dallas kept it very much within reach.
It was all Odyssey Sims to start the second half for the Wings while the Sparks found themselves in a bit of foul trouble. The back-and-forth quarter ended in a 62-62 tie. The game was tied four times and had four lead changed in the third alone.
Kristi Toliver carried Los Angeles with 13 in the third, while Sims finished the quarter with 12.
Frustrations boiled over in the fourth as Candace Parker was issued a technical foul on the Sparks bench, and after several controversial and reviewed calls, the intensity picked up immensely in what remained an incredibly close game.
“I thought that we hung in there and battled hard,” said Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler.
“They’re a team that likes to take things to the basket offensively. They like to get a lot of offensive rebounds, so they’re going to be very aggressive, but I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Los Angeles had a six-point lead with a little over two minutes to go – their largest lead since the first half. The Wings stayed in it, but the Sparks would not falter.
“The last few games haven’t really distinguished what Sparks basketball is all about,” said Ogwumike. “And tonight we were able to get the ball inside and play inside out, and that causes people to be open.”
The Sparks took the game 87-79. Ogwumike and Toliver led the way with 28 and 24 points respectively, while Sims put up 26 to lead Dallas.
As we head into the final stretch of the regular season, the Wings look to find winning ways again on Sunday at home against the Washington Mystics, while Los Angeles wrapped up their sweep of Texas and heads back home to face the Indiana Fever.