Sparks begins road trip with 86-83 win in New York – Orange County Register
Eighty-five days. This is how long a right knee injury kept Chiney Ogwumike waiting to play another WNBA basketball game – just her fourth since September 22, 2019, after pulling out of the WNBA bubble. last season.
And wouldn’t you know? A hurricane loomed over the northeast coast as the Sparks were due to arrive in New York, where Ogwumike eagerly awaited his return against the Liberty.
Before Henri was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday, the WNBA banned fans and media from attending the matinee at Barclays Center due to the state of emergency in New York state. Sparks coach Derek Fisher said it was possible the game was called off.
“I was like, ‘I finally got the green light to play and a hurricane is coming !?’ “Ogwumike joked, via Zoom, after the Sparks extended their winning streak to four games.” Like, ‘What’s in the world?’ ”
But the game continued and Ogwumike managed to mix up the Sparks’ 86-83 victory for nine minutes, coming off the bench and shooting 3 for 4 on the field for six points, to go with two rebounds, one steal and three fouls (including a Flagrant 1 on Betnijah Laney). The Sparks dominated New York by 10 when Ogwumike was on the court.
“It was just good,” said Ogwumike, whose other job is a basketball analyst and national radio host for ESPN. “I was going to say it was a good day, but today was a good day… and we won, so it’s like the icing on the cake. It’s been crazy 24 hours being here in New York with Henri, but I think coming out of this, my God, I feel so blessed.
The Sparks haven’t lost since returning from the WNBA Olympic break, when Chiney’s older sister Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver returned to action after injuries also kept them from staying for long periods of time. periods during the first half of the season.
On Sunday, the standout veterans scored 16 points apiece to help the Sparks start their six-game road swing on the right foot, with Ogwumike also scoring six assists and three steals. LA is now 10-13 and a half game ahead of the Dallas Wings for exclusive possession of eighth place in the WNBA standings, the playoff entry threshold. The Sparks have 10 regular games left, including seven on the road.
“We’re on the road for 15 days so mentally you have to be sharp,” said Sparks guard Erica Wheeler, who led LA with 17 points. “To start with a win, it’s going to continue and it’s going to be good for us.”
The Sparks withstood a 3-point barrage from New York, which fell 16 of 25 (47.1%) behind the arc, hitting more than 3 points out of three quarters (15) than any opponent Sparks all season.
It helped LA were able to turn Liberty’s 25 turnovers into 20 points, including converting their 10 fourth-quarter giveaways to 11 points – as the Sparks ended the game on a 25-11 streak.
For much of the latter period, the Sparks used a formation from Nneka Ogwumike, Wheeler, Brittney Sykes, Nia Coffey and Te’a Cooper.
“It took us a while to figure out which line-up we can go to that would allow us to get some saves defensively but also still be able to move the scoreboard offensively,” said Fisher. “So that’s what we’ve been trying to do in this fourth quarter… this group deserves a lot of credit for putting us in a position to have a shot at winning this game today.”
LA shot 47.1% (32 of 68), better than in all but two outings this season – and the Sparks finished with 11 interceptions, recording double-digit takeaways in a game for the seventh time this season. year.
Sykes had three – and the game sealing block on Sabrina Ionescu (12 points, 6 assists, 6 turnovers) as the former No.1 pick attempted to throw a long 3 point with time expiring. Sykes was also the main defenseman for Laney, who finished with 10 points (eight short of his average) on 2 of 12 shots.
Former UCLA star rookie Michaela Onyenwere finished with seven points and two rebounds.
And on her return to New York, Sparks center Amanda Zahui B. – a Liberty fan favorite over the previous five seasons – failed to play in front of her former crowd, but she contributed eight points, three rebounds and two. assists in the last victory of his new team.
The Sparks’ road trip continues Tuesday in Washington, DC, where they will face Ellena Delle Donne (who played for the first time in nearly two years on Sunday) and her Mystics at 4 p.m.
Do this 4️⃣ in a row 📸
– Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) August 22, 2021
This trip to Brooklyn is by far the most emotional road game I have ever had. Coming back to New York and not having a lot of fans or supporters in the arena was tough and difficult. But seeing people who care and care about my heart is the greatest blessing one can ask for.
and we have the dubbing
– Amanda Zahui B. (@AmandaZahuiB) August 22, 2021