After the Lynx defeated the Mystics 83-77 earlier Sunday, it gave the Sparks an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Wings. The Sparks fought valiantly suiting only eight players and having only seven players actually playing in the game. Unfortunately, the Sparks were unable to win their matchup against the Dallas Wings losing 87-84.
T’ea Cooper lead the way with 24 points, but it wasn’t enough as guards Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey combined for 36 points.
The Sparks started the game with tremendous energy hustling for rebounds, attacking the basket, and causing turnovers. The Wings were able to settle down and take control of the game as they led 21-16 after the first. Only Cooper gave the Sparks anything offensively in the first quarter scoring 9 of the team’s 16 points. She continued her offensive outburst leading the team in scoring and reaching a career milestone scoring her 400th career point.
The Sparks and Wings continued to exchange blows throughout the game with each team responding to the other’s offensive surges. L.A. took a two-point lead in the third, then Dallas went on a 7-0 run. With the Wings looking to close out the game in the fourth, Nneka Ogwumike hit four threes in the quarter. The Sparks were down by as many as 13 in the fourth and cut lead down to three with 7.8 seconds left; it just wasn’t enough as the Wings were able to hold on and win after Erica Wheeler missed the potential game-tying three as time expired.
Today’s matinee embodied the Sparks season. Frustrating moments, never completely out of contention, but not good enough to advance. Derek Fisher and the Sparks were never fully healthy and struggled to get production from their depleted bench. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, two of the team’s stars, were both constantly out including today when Chiney missed the game due to her knee issues.
With the offseason starting today and one year into the post-Candace Parker era, the Sparks will have a lot of decisions to make on the roster and what the team needs to address moving forward. Which free agents do they bring back? What will the bench depth look like? How does Gabby Williams fit into the team? These are all things Fisher will have to think about and get right, this offseason.