The Los Angeles Sparks took down the Dallas Wings Sunday in an 84-81 duel earning a seventh straight victory improving to 10-3.
Sunday, August 23rd, what would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday was a day leaving all Angelenos filled with heavy hearts. Sparks center Candace Parker recorded her seventh double-double of the season wearing the Laker legends custom pro model shoes.
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) August 23, 2020
“I hope we honor him in action,” said Parker, a friend of the Laker legend. “I think he left a clear blueprint of what he did while he was on this Earth and what he wants us to continue to do…Basketball has given us all so much, and it’s our job to make it better for the next person.”
Parker played with heart and grit against the wings scoring 11 in the first quarter, finishing with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
— WNBA (@WNBA) August 24, 2020
The extra offense was needed with Sparks guard Riquna Williams out with a left knee sprain. Forward Brittany Sykes got the start for Williams stepped up to the plate and performed exceptionally well, netting 23 points in 33 massive minutes.
“My teammates have been getting on me, and I finally opened up my ears, to be aggressive and stay aggressive and that’s on both ends of the floor,” said Sykes. “Now that I start, I can feel the game out a little quicker rather than on the bench, and either way, the lanes were there and the backdoors were there.”
WNBA leading scorer Arike Ogunbowale’s 20 points lifted the Wings to a 10 point lead over the Sparks in the 4th quarter.
The tough defense of Sykes who was inserted into the starting lineup and faced with the daunting task of guarding Arike held her ground as the Sparks were able to halt the offensive outburst outscoring the Wings 25-15 in the 4th quarter.
“Coming into this game I knew we had to limit the amount of offense that Arike normally gets in a game, and I took that as a big deal,” said Sykes. “I wanted to make sure I was there for my teammates and that my teammates were there for me.”
The game seesawed back and forth until the Sparks grabbed an 83-77 lead. Ogunbowale kept getting to the basket and was able to bring the Wings to within three at 84-81, but rookie Te’a Cooper drew a charge as time expired on Ogunbowale’s last-second attempt to tie the game.
Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher and former championship teammate of the late Kobe Bryant has instilled the mamba mentality in his Sparks during late-game situations which enabled his team to overcome the deficit winning the game in a close nail bitter.
“When we find ourselves in situations like we did against Atlanta, like we did tonight against Dallas, it’s actually good for us,” said Fisher. “We need these types of experiences to really connect to that type of mentality [mamba mentality] of outworking the opponent regardless of how it looks.”
Despite a tough test from the Wings, the Sparks were able to hold on to their winning streak and moved into a tie with the Las Vegas Aces for second in the WNBA standings at 10-3. The Sparks are now half a game behind the first-place Seattle Storm at 11-3.
The Sparks are rolling and will look to gain their 8th straight win Wednesday at 5 PM against the Minnesota Lynx.