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Sparks Update: Nneka Ogwumike a deserving All-Star starter

Los Angeles Sparks head coach Curt Miller thinks his superstar forward Nneka Ogwumike is off to one of the best starts of her career, which is saying something.

Dallas Wings v Los Angeles Sparks Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Sparks had a bounce-back week finishing their five-game homestand strong with back-to-back wins against the Dallas Wings. The subsequent road trip has started rocky with a tough loss against the Chicago Sky, but nothing takes away from the accomplishment of Nneka Ogwumike being named a WNBA All-Star starter.

The week began with L.A. looking to snap their three-game losing streak, which they did, defeating the Wings in a 76-74 nail-biter at home. L.A. went on a 17-10 run midway through the third to get back into the game and Nneka and Destanni Henderson exchanged baskets late in the fourth to help L.A. pull away for good and take the win.

While Nneka was her All-Star self, it was Henderson’s night as she scored 18 points off the bench, just one point shy of her career high. Without her spark, Los Angeles doesn’t stay in the game and would likely be looking at a fourth straight defeat. Nneka was Los Angeles’ top scorer with 20 and Dearica Hamby took care of the glass, grabbing ten rebounds.

L.A. didn’t have much time to celebrate the win as they had to turn around and face Dallas once again. Beating the same team in back-to-back games is a challenge, but the Sparks were up for it, winning 93-83.

The game once again came down to fourth-quarter heroics and the Sparks dominated, outscoring the Wings 22-10 in the closing frame.

Nneka ended the game with a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds while Hamby had arguably her best game in a Sparks jersey, scoring 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting. These two wins helped Los Angeles salvage the back end of their five-game home stand, which they ended with a 2-3 record.

Heading back on the road, the Sparks faced off against the struggling Chicago Sky, who had lost six-straight games. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, that losing streak was snapped on Wednesday when the Sky bested the Sparks 80-63.

Chicago dominated from the second quarter on and never looked back. Chicago had four players in double digits and Los Angeles struggled from three, going 4-of-13 as a team. That’s not going to be enough to get things done on the road.

L.A. will have a chance to redeem themselves against Chicago on Friday in the rematch. A win to start the weekend would get the Sparks back to .500.

This past Sunday the WNBA All-Star starters were announced and Nneka was selected. For Sparks Nation the selection is no surprise as Nneka is averaging 19.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game; her numbers all across the board are flirting with career highs. She is not just the MVP of the team; she’s in the conversation of being the MVP of the league. Curt Miller spoke about Nneka’s accomplishment right before the Sunday game against the Dallas Wings.

“A third into this WNBA season, arguably the best start to a season in her career,” Miller said. “Glad that voters recognize what she’s doing and how she’s the leader of our team both on and off the floor.”

Nneka continues to break records. She’s a champion, a Top 25 player all-time, an eight-time All-star and now a two-time All-Star starter. She continues to add to her Hall of Fame resume, but what she really prides herself in is doing this work for the purple and gold.

“You speak to these types of milestones, I’m just really really grateful to be doing it in purple and gold, to be doing it in a Los Angeles Sparks jersey representing this championship city and just being with players that get it,” Nneka said.

Upcoming games

The Sparks will stay in Chicago and try to win the rematch versus the Sky on Friday. Then they head down south and play against Atlanta Dream before heading home to play the Dream yet again. These two-game series are becoming more common in the W and it’ll be interesting to see how well or poorly the Sparks perform in these matchups this year.