Accurate shooting and aggressive defense gave the Los Angeles Sparks an 86-74 win over the Las Vegas Aces. Los Angeles lived by the three, shooting at 44 percent from behind the arc during the game.
“Whoever really for real competes the hardest and just wants it the most, they’re gonna have the greatest chance,” said Lakers head coach Derek Fisher. “I thought we represented that,”
Forward Candace Parker, guard Riquna Williams and guard Chelsea Gray tied for 18 points. Center Chiney Ogwumike led the Sparks in rebounds with 10 points. Center Liz Cambage led Las Vegas with 18 points and forward Dearica Hamby made 11 rebounds.
Despite the victory, the Sparks are still learning how to play with one another. Guard Alana Beard returned to competition in the Sparks’ 72-82 loss to the Phoenix Mercury. Forward Nneka Ogwumike did not play during the Aces game and Parker is still working to gain comfort with her new teammates.
“We really don’t have it all together,” Chiney said. “But together, if we’re on the same page, we can win.”
The Aces took authority of the game quickly after tip-off, going on a 5-0 run. Multiple Sparks players soon found baskets, including Parker and center Kalani Brown, to stay in the game. The Aces denied the Sparks from getting a lead, committing three steals and three blocks as well as scoring eight fastbreak points.
“We really like to run and gun, we’re a young athletic team so why not use it to our advantage,” forward A’ja Wilson said.
Los Angeles found their shot and pushed the pace to begin the second quarter when Gray and Parker initiated a six-point run. The Aces went cold on offense for three regulated minutes, Cambage made shots to close the Las Vegas gap to seven. The Sparks had an offensive drought, but the Aces did not take advantage.
“If we know we’re getting stops, they’re not scoring, we’re not scoring, we’re doing something right,” Williams said. “We just got to find it for us on the offensive end.”
Las Vegas only scored 16 points in the second phase. Although they made seven steals and three blocked shots, the Aces gave up 11 points from their 10 turnovers by halftime.
“We have to be sure of our passes,” said Tamera Young. “A lot of times we’re looking, but we’re not executing it.”
The Aces hit more snags as they experienced foul troubles in the third quarter. Cambage got four fouls in the time frame, including a flagrant foul after a heated exchange with Brown.
Center A’ja Wilson cut the Aces deficit to five points, but the Sparks shot well from the field and the free throw line.
The Sparks led by as much as 19 points in the fourth quarter. Both teams made 11 steals and six blocks, but the Sparks received a 21-point benefit to the Aces’ 20 turnovers.
The Sparks next home game will be against the Washington Mystics on July 7 at 2:00 P.M.