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Sparks fold to Aces 86-82 in a thriller

L.A. was shorthanded and couldn’t quite pull of the win.

Los Angeles Sparks v Las Vegas Aces Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Sparks entered their showdown with the Las Vegas Aces missing a couple key bodies. After suffering a mild hamstring injury on Wednesday, 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike did not suit up. And Seimone Augustus — the Sparks first player off the bench on most nights — was held out of the game after not feeling her best during warmups (obligatory 2020 disclaimer: She wasn’t feeling right athletically; it was not illness-related.).

Ultimately, the lack of veteran bodies came back to bite them. They matched the Aces’ punches all game long and led by a point going into the final frame. But Vegas came out stronger to start the fourth, never relinquished the lead, and won 86-82.

It was another throwback game for Candace Parker, who has been on a mission this season to prove that her 2019 struggles were an outlier. Parker racked up 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks, leading the Sparks in all four categories, and making a few highlights in the process.

More surprising was the offensive explosion of Sydney Wiese in her second game since moving into the starting lineup. Wiese dropped in 18 points on a wildly efficient 6-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-4 from deep. It was the most points she’s scored since her second career game, back in 2017.

But the Aces had more than enough star power of their own, with A’ja Wilson and Angel McCoughtry combining for 50 points on 19-of-34 shooting, 19 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

The difference in the two teams really showed up down the stretch, with the Sparks offsetting their fight with a handful of sloppy plays, while the Aces generally looked a little bit more tight.

With a 22-game schedule, there probably isn’t time for moral victories, but L.A. did pretty well to match a good Vegas squad despite playing without Ogwumike and Augustus. The loss drops them to 3-3 ahead of their Sunday showdown with their longtime rival, the Minnesota Lynx.