The Sparks entered Saturday night 10-15 and in ninth place in the standings. A victory would not only allow the Sparks to enter the eighth and final playoff spot but also prove that this time can beat a bonafide title-contender like Connecticut, something L.A. hasn’t yet done this season. Unfortunately, there was no thrill of victory, just the agony of defeat for the Sparks, as they fell 76-61 against the Sun, losing both back-to-back games in Connecticut.
The Sparks had a good start to the game. They came out firing on all cylinders offensively and were leading after the first quarter 21-16. The Sparks shot well from three, hitting 46% of their long-range shots in the first half. The Sun continued to struggle from beyond the arc, shooting a woeful 20% on their 10 attempts.
From the bench, Nia Coffey continued to play well against the Sun. She had 11 points at the half, including hitting three 3-pointers. The Sparks had a slim bench with Kristi Toliver and Chiney Ogwumike inactive, but Coffey was able to outperform the entire Sun bench all by herself at the half.
If the first half for the Sparks was Dr. Jekyll, then the second half was Mr. Hyde. The Sparks couldn’t get anything happening offensively with just a measly 10-point third quarter. They continued to be outrebounded by the Sun with Brionna Jones getting any board she wanted. She ended the night with 15 as the Sun outrebounded the Sparks 38-18.
The fourth quarter was a slow and painful end for the Sparks. The Sun just kept extending their lead by a couple of points every few minutes, hitting the timely three and grabbing a crucial rebound whenever the Sparks looked like they might start a run.
By the five-minute mark the Sun had a 16-point lead, and it was all but over. The Sun are too experienced and too good to blow a 16-point lead at home in the fourth. The game ended 76-61 and the Sparks took a step back in their goal of making the playoffs.
There are some positive takeaways from these back-to-back losses against the Sun. The Sparks played four really good quarters in these games. Unfortunately, the four good quarters were spread out in two games. L.A. needs to find away to play at their highest level and keep that quality up for 40 minutes. They failed to do that in either matchup against Connecticut.
There is no shame in losing to the Connecticut Sun. They are the number one team in the WNBA and have won eight games in a row. Hardly anyone has beaten the Sun in 2021. Even though it was a tough test, the Sparks didn’t pass it. The good news is the Sparks face the 12th-place Indiana Fever next as they look to pick themselves up after three straight losses.