As we begin the second quarter of the season, Jordin Canada and Nneka Ogwumike are playing some of the best basketball of their careers. However, their strong individual play has yet to result in victories as the Los Angeles Sparks have now lost three straight games.
The week started with a loss to the Minnesota Lynx, where Jordin Canada had a career-high 22 points. Although typically known for her defensive prowess, it was Canada’s offensive game that shined even in defeat.
“Hats off to her, she played a heck of a game,” Coach Miller said in the post-game presser. “And to her credit, they insulted her at times and she stepped up and made big plays and big shots when we needed it.”
The insults Miller is referring to is the defense leaving Canada open from three. She burned their gameplan as she went 2-5 from deep. And after hitting a couple, she attacked the basket every which way and the Lynx had no answer.
Showcasing her full repertoire, Canada scored in transition, isolation and even had a lovely mid-range jumper in the fourth.
Although she played all 40 minutes, Canada didn’t show signs of slowing down as she finished the night shooting 9-17 from the field and scored eight of her 22 points in the fourth quarter.
As is usually the case, Canada also had the responsibility of defending the point of attack as well. She made incredible hustle plays all night, most notably her hockey assist that resulted in a Dearica Hamby layup that got the Sparks home crowd to erupt in appreciation for her efforts.
Like Canada, Nneka Ogwumike has also been on a tear of late.
Ogwumike is a seven-time all-star, two-time champion, a lifetime Spark and is a shoo-in for the WNBA Hall of Fame. Eventually, her jersey will also hang in the Crypto.com Arena.
Even with all the accolades she’s notched in her illustrious career, Ogwumike has arguably never played better than she has this season.
Averaging 19.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists, Ogwumike is putting up near career bests in year 12. Given the early results and her elite prouduction, it’s looking more and more likely Ogwumike will be starting at the All-Star game in Las Vegas for the second time in her career.
Whether she’s getting the ball at the elbow off a Horns action, working the high-low game, or posting up, Ogwumike is dominating her opponents on every spot on the floor.
Her efforts may not have resulted in a winning record, but her effectiveness and impact are undeniable.
Although two starters may be having good seasons, this recent three-game losing streak has dropped the Sparks to a 5-7 on the season and seventh in the standings. So, what’s been behind their struggles?
Well, injuries have clearly been a factor. Starting guard Layshia Clarendon is out with a torn plantar fascia for at least 4-6 weeks and Lexie Brown missed all three games last week with a non-Covid illness. Missing two starting guards and your best three-point shooter in Brown, has been too much for L.A. to overcome.
Even with the context of injuries, a three-game losing streak at home is unacceptable. Losses to sub .500 teams like the Lynx can come back to bite the Sparks. Especially with both games against Minnesota being a one-possession affair entering the fourth. The team can’t blame injuries for a lack of crunch time execution.
The Sparks will have a chance to finish their homestand on a positive note this weekend when they play the Dallas Wings in a two-game series.
Can the team figure out how to close out games? Will Ogwumike and Canada help produce enough offense to get back in the win column? Will Brown return from her illness? We’ll find out Friday night at 7 p.m. PT.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.