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Defense Gives the L.A. Sparks an 84-74 Win Over the New York Liberty
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Editor
Published July 4, 2022

Sparks guard Jordin Canada (21) scored 11 points, four rebounds, and seven assists against the New York Liberty (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Despite a late rally by the New York Liberty, the Los Angeles Sparks secured an 84-74 victory against them on Sunday at the Crypto.com Arena. The win puts the Sparks in playoff contention as their 9-11 overall record puts them in seventh place in the League. Having more games in the Crypto.com Arena will assist the Sparks in getting wins, according to guard Jordin Canada.

“I think having a seven home-game stretch is really huge for us, being able to play at home, have the energy from the crowd, just being locked in,” Canada said. “We knew tonight was going to be a playoff-type game and we knew it was going to matter.”

Having seven home games in July is a large contrast from May when they spent most of the month on the road. Center Liz Cambage mentioned how the stint was “the wildest stuff” she ever endured during a WNBA season.

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“That was very testing … yesterday was our first taste of delays,” Cambage said. “I think the way we handled May, we just knew we gotta stay together, we got to find this chemistry.”

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (30) defends Liberty forward Marine Johannes (23) (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Five Sparks players scored in the double digits; forward Nneka Ogwumike led all scorers with 22 points. Center Chiney Ogwumike secured a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“Having someone you can communicate so easily with but also that sets a standard high with every possession, how she plays, you’re only going to be great by playing with her,” Chiney said about Nneka.

Liberty forward Marine Johannes led with 17 points and guard Sabrina Ionescu made nine rebounds. Canada recalled the years of competition she had against Ionescu.

“She’s such a great player, very smart on the offensive end, very high IQ point guard,” Canada said. “She’s a special player, but tonight [we] just tried to make it hard for her. She had six turnovers and that mostly came from [Sparks guard Lexie Brown] being able to guard her most of the game.”

Brown filled the stat sheet by making four steals and four assists while scoring eight points in three quarters, making her the leader in player impact.

Sparks center Liz Cambage (1) scored 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists against the New York Librty (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Sparks took care of the ball, getting five offensive rebounds in the first quarter. They also had only eight turnovers by the half. Los Angeles benefited from the Liberty’s foul troubles, which gave the Sparks several free throw opportunities. Liberty guard Crystal Dangerfield sat out most of the second quarter after acquiring her third foul.

While the Liberty gave up 11 points to turnovers, they found their rhythm on the perimeter. Their shooting accuracy would earn them a three-point lead by halftime. By the third, New York’s three-point shooting began missing the mark as Nneka and forward Katie Lou Samuelson made baskets to regain the lead.

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Dangerfield’s lone three-pointer started an eight-point run, bringing the Liberty within one point of the Sparks with 4:42 left in regulation. However, Los Angeles closed out the game with a 10-2 run led by Cambage. Sparks head coach Fred Williams told them not to be overly aggressive on defense in the final minutes.

“Let’s get out some transition baskets if we can and let’s try to beat them on the backside of their defense,” he said. “The main thing is we just shared the basketball and we’re able to get some shots inside with Nneka and Katie Lou.”

The Sparks will battle the Phoenix Mercury on July 4 at 4:00 P.M. at the Crypto.com Arena.

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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