All-Star reserve guard Allisha Gray recorded a game-high 23 points and six rebounds, Rhyne Howard had 15 points, making five three-pointers and the Atlanta Dream defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 90-79 on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
It marked Atlanta’s second victory over LA in three days as the Dream defeated the Sparks by 28 points on Sunday, 112-84.
“Our job is to try to be as consistent as we can be.” said Dream coach Tanisha Wright. “So that’s what we are trying to show as we get towards the break.”
With the win, the Dream improved to 8-8 on the season, winning their last three games. The Sparks fell to 7-11 on the year and have now lost four games in a row and eight of their last 11.
“Really proud and that was the message afterward, that they showed a lot of character,” said Sparks coach Curt Miller. “They really showed togetherness and toughness, that there was more fight in them. It was good to see. That is something that we can really grow from and learn from. Again, it may not all come together this year with everything that we’re dealing with but these moments go a long way two or three years down the road from now.”
All-Star reserve forward Cheyenne Parker had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Dream, also adding two steals and one block to help Atlanta hold LA to 42 percent shooting from the field.
Atlanta led 29-14 through the first period after Howard scored a quick nine points. The Dream maintained a 53-40 advantage at halftime.
All-star starter Nneka Ogwumike recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds, Azurá Stevens had a season-high 16 points, 12 rebounds and added two blocks while Jordin Canada had 13 points and seven assists for the Sparks. Rookie guard Zia Cooke scored 11 points.
Los Angeles used a 11-3 run in the third quarter to get within five, 56-51 after Stevens added back-to-back baskets but Atlanta quickly responded with another run of their own.
The Dream used a 13-0 run late in the third, taking a commanding 69-51 lead with 1:37 left in the period.
“I feel like we responded well once we locked in,” Gray said. “Tonight, just everybody, we all played well and found the right plays tonight.”
The Sparks used an 8-0 run to get within 81-69 with 5:38 left in the fourth but were unable to cut their deficit to single digits resulting in a 90-79 loss.
“We have to be hungry. We have to be ready right from the beginning,” Miller said. “Again, that’s our challenge right now. Our veteran leaders have to be a big part of that.”
Los Angeles was shorthanded with three opening-night starters missing in Lexie Brown, Layshia Clarendon and Chiney Ogwumike unable to play.
“Next man up,” Canada added. “That’s the mentality that we have to have. Everybody has stepped up these last couple of games with injuries and dealing with a lot of adversity but we all have that mentality. Everybody has to stay ready because you never know when your number is going to get called. We have done a good job. You just have to stay consistent and stay together and try to figure out a way to come out a little bit more sharp in the first quarter.”
The Sparks will next travel to face the Phoenix Mercury (3-13) on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.