Los Angeles, CA – After a five-game run on the road, New York wrapped up the tour at the Staples Center. A squad fighting for a playoff spot now faced the defending champions with the second-best record in the league – the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Los Angeles Sparks put the fire to the floor and extend their dominance to a four-game winning streak, beating the New York Liberty 87-74.
Moments into the match-up, home court advantage cleared the path for Los Angeles’ Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike to lead an outstanding offensive run. Parker topped the night with 24 points. Chelsea Gray did the rebound work for the Sparks, leading with seven.
A minute into the second period, New York caught Los Angeles’ tail with a Lindsay Allen running layup. The Liberty and Sparks locked horns at halftime 44-44.
“I think it’s credit to the team. We showed good resilience in the first half,” said Liberty Head Coach Bill Lambier. “This has been a long, long stretch for the last six weeks for us, two long road trips, and we got a little tired, but we regrouped and then the third quarter we just turned the ball over and gave them the lead.”
New York took the lead at the top of the second half, but Tina Charles struggled to show “Player of the Week” level skill. She fumbled the pass turning over the ball, followed by an Epiphanny Prince turnover minutes later that sent the Sparks on a shooting spree. Los Angeles led by 14 heading into the final quarter.
“We played without question our best defensive quarter in the third quarter. It helped our offense as well,” explained Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler. “We were able to get some shots and our execution was better. I told them for us to beat good teams, win a series in a playoff or even be in the position to win a championship we cannot play how we did in the second quarter at either end.”
Time to ditch the seats and beat the Los Angeles traffic, it was game over from there. New York suffered 13 turnovers to give away the advantage. But Odyssey Sims also had a breakout performance scoring 20 for the Sparks, something that came as no surprise to her teammates.
“I am proud of ‘O’. She is adjusting well,” Parker commented on her relationship with Sims. “I think that starting also helps because we are able to move ‘AB’ a little bit to be our key defensive player on the other team and are able to put ‘O’ on the ball. She is playing amazing—especially in transition. It is fun for me because when I find her she is able to slice the defense. I am really proud of her.”
Four of the Los Angeles starters finished with double digits: Parker and Sims leading the pack, plus Ogwumike with 17 and Gray 11. It wasn’t just a one-minded offense, the team effort showed on the Los Angeles’ side of the wood.
“We individually know what we need to do and collectively as a team,” said Sims. “We talk about it, we go over it and we try to make sure we execute what we talk about.”
The Sparks have a two-day turnaround and will hit the road to face the Dallas Wings on Aug. 6 at 1:30 pm PT. The Liberty return home to Madison Square Garden and face off against the Indiana Fever on Aug. 8 at 7 pm EST.