When Derek Fisher spoke with the media before the start of Tuesday’s game, he said the keys to game would be energy and effort. Execution hasn’t been as much of an issue for a team this talented, but the Sparks have let themselves be outhustled on occasion, particularly at the start of games.
Energy would not be a concern for L.A. against New York. The Sparks came out active on both ends of the floor and set the tone early in their 93-78 win over the Liberty. The pace almost got too frenetic on occasion, leading to some sloppy turnovers, but the overall intensity level was a plus.
Sydney Wiese helped get the team started on the right foot, scoring or assisting on each of the first eight points, including a crafty right-handed finish in transition for the southpaw.
Wiese has been unconscious from long range since being added to the starting lineup. She has averaged 14.5 points in her four games as a starter, and is shooting 12-of-19 on 3-pointers. Wiese scored 17 points, her third straight contest in double figures after recording three such outings all of last season. Riquna Williams also added three 3-pointers and 17 points off the bench, as the two shooting guards tied for the team lead in scoring.
Another new entrant in the starting lineup was Brittney Sykes, who was replacing the injured Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. Sykes gives the starting lineup an extra ball-handler, she is constantly diving on the floor for loose balls, and she thrives at attacking the gaps in the defense. In her first start in an L.A. uniform, she chipped in 15 points and 4 rebounds.
The defense was fantastic to start. The Liberty came into the game averaging the fewest points (73.1 per game) in the WNBA, but the Sparks still brought the requisite level of discipline on that end of the floor. They closed out hard on 3-point shooters and forced 26 turnovers. New York shook loose to score 28 points in the third quarter, but otherwise had few answers for the L.A. defense.
Reshanda Gray also had her best game in a Sparks uniform against the team that cut her this offseason. Gray was an important part of the team’s interior defense, helping to patrol the paint with two blocks and seven rebounds.
L.A. has been searching for consistency throughout the young season, and this is the first time the team has won back-to-back games in 2020. They’ll look to build on that against Washington Thursday.