After falling behind the Connecticut Sun 6-0, the Sparks controlled the tempo for much of the game, winning 81-76. And while the final score was close, and the game was close most of the way through, it took five points from the Sun in the waning seconds to keep the win from being double digits.
Candace Parker had a stellar game, adding further proof to claim that her rough 2019 was more about poor health than poor performance. Parker looked spry and engaged all game, scoring 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting, getting to the free throw line seven times, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds, dishing out three assists, and finishing +15 in her 31 minutes. But she was most impressive on the defensive end, where her one steal and three blocks were an accurate representation of her activity level.
She even showed some veteran leadership, directing rookie Te’a Cooper on a pick and roll, and then reaping the rewards.
Just your standard 1st year-13th year pick and roll pic.twitter.com/Y9W9dhuDTX— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) July 31, 2020
The other usual suspects for the Sparks provided strong moments, but struggled at times. A year after struggling with the defense of Jasmine Thomas in the playoffs, Chelsea Gray was again inefficient in the matchup, as she shot 6-of-18 from the field. But she handed out six assists and generally controlled the flow of the Sparks offense.
Chelsea Gray and Nneka Ogwumike run the pick and roll as well, if not better, than any duo in tho WNBA pic.twitter.com/mwWLkcOgbT— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) July 31, 2020
.....how did chelsea gray make this pass pic.twitter.com/4NJNUy0GvA— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) July 31, 2020
Connecticut outrebounded L.A. 45-36, but the Sparks made up for it with a strong and active defensive effort. DeWanna Bonner was electric with 34 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists, but no one else on the Sun scored more than 11.
Outside of Bonner, the team shot just 14-of-54; on the whole, they shot only 35.6%.
Even with All-Star Jonquel Jones opting out of the year, the Sun figure to be one of the better teams in the league, so this is a win the Sparks can hang their hat on. They showed areas where they need to improve — 15 turnovers and 26 fouls won’t cut it — but they were strong on both ends of the court as they improved to 2-1.