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Wings Update: Dallas back to .500 after season-low scoring effort

The Dallas Wings were unable to manufacture their usual offensive output on Wednesday, scoring a season-low 61 points in a lopsided home loss to the Los Angeles Sparks — an important reminder that they’ll need to find a way to win low-scoring games if they’re going to make noise in the playoffs.

Phoenix Mercury v Dallas Wings
Kalani Brown’s career-high 21 points was one of few highlights in an otherwise-sluggish Dallas performance against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

For the first ten games of the 2023 WNBA season, the Dallas Wings (5-5) have fielded one of the league’s more dynamic offenses. Though the Wings have had an up-and-down start to the season shooting the basketball (44.5 percent effective field goal percentage; 10th in the WNBA), they’ve been second to none in earning extra possessions via offensive rebounds (33.1 percent offensive rebounding rate), and they’re playing at the fastest pace of any WNBA team at 84 possessions per 40 minutes.

To put it simply, the Wings want to play in high-scoring games. Their most recent loss showed what happens when they don’t.

On Wednesday, Dallas came out flat against the Los Angeles Sparks (6-5) and finished on a similarly poor note, scoring just 10 points in the 4th quarter and a season-low 61 in the game. The Wings once again struggled from outside, going 4-of-19, and though they pulled down 12 offensive rebounds to the Sparks’ three, disparities in turnovers (17 to nine) and free throw attempts (16 to seven) combined with the team’s inefficient shooting were too much to overcome.

Los Angeles Sparks v Dallas Wings
Arike Ogunbowale
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Though the Wings’ point and free throw total were somewhat anomalous, Wednesday’s loss itself was the latest in a trend that suggests that Dallas can’t rely on its defense to win games. It was the third time this season the Wings were held under 80 points — all have been losses — and it emphasized just how reliant the Wings continue to be on high-variance jump shooting. The team’s starting backcourt of Arike Ogunbowale and Veronica Burton combined to shoot 5-of-20 from the floor, while forwards Satou Sabally and Natasha Howard didn’t fare much better, going 7-of-23.

The lone offensive bright spot was center Kalani Brown, who scored a career-high 21 points (eclipsing her previous career-high of 19, set earlier this season) on 10-of-14 shooting. Brown also hauled in 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. She’ll continue playing a significant role for the Wings while Teaira McCowan plays for the Turkish National Team in the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket competition, which is scheduled to run through June 25.

Dangerfield cleared to return; Wings release Sims

After the game, the Wings announced that point guard Crystal Dangerfield had been cleared to return from injury and that, in a corresponding move, Odyssey Sims was released from her hardship contract.

Dangerfield had played in the first six games of the season for the Wings before injuring her ankle, at which point she was averaging 8.8 points and 2.2 assists in 27.9 minutes per game. Sims, who was signed to an emergency hardship contract after Dangerfield’s injury, averaged 4.8 points and 5.8 assists in 20.9 minutes per game in her stead.

What’s next for the Wings

Dallas plays one more game this week against the Seattle Storm (2-7), which will be a good opportunity for it to get back on track. The Wings have already played and defeated the Storm once this season back on May 26 — a 95-91 Dallas victory in which the Wings’ offense was firing on all cylinders.

Next Tuesday, the Wings will take to the road to play the Atlanta Dream (4-5), who they previously beat in their season opener. The Wings will then get two more shots at the Sparks on Friday, June 23 and Sunday, June 25, the latter game being televised nationally on ABC.