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Defense Gave L.A. Sparks Competitive Energy Against Las Vegas Aces
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports writer
Published July 3, 2021

Sparks guard Brittney Sykes (15) earned six points and three assists against the Las Vegas Aces on July 2, 2021 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Los Angeles Sparks brought more scrap and grit against the Las Vegas Aces on Friday night. Despite losing 58-66 to the Aces, the Sparks revved up their defensive effort and three-point shooting.

Guard Erica Wheeler led Los Angeles with 15 points and five assists. She was one of three Sparks players who scored in the double digits.

“I’m proud of my team on both ends, defense and offense,” Wheeler said. “We played a better game today.”

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Center Amanda Zahui B led with 12 rebounds and earned a double-double by also contributing 14 points.

Nia Coffey made great strides on the defensive end with seven rebounds, four blocks, and two steals. Although she has a quiet demeanor off the court, she battles tenaciously during games.

“The most quiet people are the most dangerous ones and [Coffey] is a great example of that,” Zahui B said. “It’s wild how athletic she is and how great she is, she’s even a greater human.”

The Sparks effort on defense gave them a seven-point benefit from the Aces 13 rebounds. It also held their opponents well below their scoring average of 90.2 points per game.

“I think even in adversity and struggle, you have to find ways to stay focused on the positive things that are happening,” said Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. “Our group is doing a lot of good things innately.”

All except one Sparks player made at least one rebound in the match up. In previous weeks, the coaching staff has urged their guards and perimeter players to assist their post players on the glass. Wheeler and guard Te’a Cooper contributed four rebounds each, helping the team stay in pace with Las Vegas.

Amanda Zahui B (1) defends Aces center Liz Cambage (8) (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“Our bigs are asked to do a lot and we don’t have a lot of big bodies so we really needed our guards to be better in that area and tonight, they really were,” Fisher said. “That helps a lot when we can rebound the basketball, it just makes a huge difference.”

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Fish discussed with players to play the game in three-minute intervals to see how many three-minute segments they can win. Wheeler noted how this exercise helped the offense flow.

“That kind of slows your mind down to say ‘hey, lets play three minutes’ each time and it also allows you to think the game,” Wheeler said. “We’re not thinking too far ahead, we’re not rushing.”

The Sparks host the Seattle Storm on July 4 at 6:00P.M.

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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