Sparks forward Azurá Stevens (23) scored 12 points and four rebounds against the Connecticut Sun on June 18, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Despite having a strong start, the Los Angeles Sparks lost to the Connecticut Sun 83-74. Sparks head coach Curt Miller was optimistic about the squad’s performance in the matchup.

“I’m just beaming with pride about what our team is building and what we’re all about,” Miller said. “We hate losing in protecting our home court but I think we’re proving ourselves despite the adversity.”

Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike led the team with 19 points, and 15 rebounds, proving her case as a 2023 All-Star starter. Although honored at the idea of getting her eighth All-Star nod, she hopes her teammates can also get the honor.

“I strongly believe that you get a lot of votes when your team is doing well and I would like to say that our team is doing pretty good,” Ogwumike said. “In terms of our everyday growth, I see it progressing.”

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Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner (24) scored 20 points and nine rebounds against the L.A. Sparks on June 18, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Miller noted how he is having fun coaching Ogwumike and how her strong start to the season has been an asset to the team. The Sparks are cultivating a big-three between Ogwumike, forward Dearica Hamby and Azurá Stevens.

“[Stevens] has the ability to stretch the floor for us, she has the ability to play against some of these bigger threes, like (Suns forward) DeWanna Bonner and her length,” Miller said. “It’s so hard to practice in this league with any kind of duration or intensity or reps.”

Hamby and Stevens led the Sparks in the early minutes while the Sun relied on close-ranged buckets.

Connecticut came out strong in the second quarter with shots from forward Alyssa Thomas and guard Tyasha Harris. Los Angeles found a 9-4 run late and finished the half 44-39.

Nneka’s seven rebounds denied the Sun from making any second-chance points in the first half. Ultimately, the Sun scored four second-chance points compared to the Sparks’ 10.

Sparks guard Karlie Samuelson (44) scored 11 points against the Connecticut Sun on June 18, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

While Thomas led all scorers with 12 points, Stevens and Nneka had nine points each at intermission.

“In the games, we’re starting to understand better,” Ogwumike said. “We’re starting to figure out each other’s strengths on the inside and the outside.”

After halftime, Los Angeles was slow to score, allowing the Sun to get back into the game. The game was tied three different times during the phase.

Guard Karlie Samuelson came off the bench to score 11 points for the Sparks, she tied the game at 74 with 3:01 left in regulation.  The Sun went on a nine-point run to secure the win. Bonner led Connecticut with 20 points and nine rebounds.

The Sparks will battle the Minnesota Lynx on June 20 at 7:00P.M.