The Los Angeles Sparks didn’t just beat the Indiana Fever 98-65 in an all-out team effort Thursday night — they also secured a place in the playoffs for the eighth straight season.
Indiana opened the game with an 18-14 first-quarter advantage, during which it outshot Los Angeles 35.3 to 28.6 percent. But the Sparks’ offense exploded for the rest of the game, as they never shot below 50 percent again and scored at least 27 points in each of the final three quarters.
Playing with a full 12-woman roster for the first time this season, the Sparks took complete advantage of that depth. Every player got into the game and 11 of them scored.
Nneka Ogwumike led all scorers with 17 points, one shy of the 4,000th for her career. Chiney Ogwumike followed up with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting, while Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 11 points. Three Sparks players scored 10 points each, including Riquna Williams, who started in her first game back from her 10-game suspension.
Kelsey Mitchell led the Fever with 14 points, including 4-of-9 from three-point range, while Candice Dupree scored 10 points. In her first career start, Kennedy Burke added seven points along with a game-high (and career-high) four blocks.
Indiana showed some life at the end of the game, as they made all six of their 3-pointers in the final period. Los Angeles also made six 3-pointers, all of which came in the middle two quarters.
Thursday’s win for the Sparks (combined with the Dallas Wings’ loss, summarized below) also meant the Chicago Sky clinched their first playoff appearance since 2016.
The Sparks host the Connecticut Sun on Sunday, Aug. 25, at 5 p.m. ET (NBA TV).
The Fever head to Seattle to face the Storm on Sunday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).
Thursday’s other action
Minnesota Lynx 86, Dallas Wings 70
In a battle that featured the top two Rookie of the Year candidates in Napheesa Collier and Arike Ogunbowale, Collier’s Lynx beat Ogunbowale’s Wings 86-70. Collier herself led the Lynx with 19 points and four steals, Damiris Dantas had 17 points and Danielle Robinson added 14. On the other side, Ogunbowale led all scorers with 22 points, Allisha Gray added 16 and Kaela Davis contributed 14 points off the bench.
The Lynx also welcomed Bridget Carleton, who signed a seven-day contract on Thursday and played two minutes.
Up next: Both teams are in action on Sunday, Aug. 25. The Wings host the Atlanta Dream at 4 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass), while the Lynx host the Las Vegas Aces at 7 p.m. ET (NBA TV).