In a tale of two separate streaks, the Sparks looked to snap a four-game home losing streak before entering All-Star break Tuesday night. Where as the Atlanta Dream sought to increase their seven-game winning streak en route to maintaining the second overall spot in league standings.
It was a back-and-forth game that saw Los Angeles and Atlanta tied up at 60 apiece through 30 minutes of play, but the game was ultimately decided when the Sparks were held to 25 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, going 4 for 16 from the field.
With only 7:03 left to play, Chelsea Gray gave the Sparks (15-11) a one-point lead after making a layup, but the Dream (16-9) went on to end the game on a 15-4 run, defeating L.A. 81-71 at Staples Center for their franchise-best eighth straight victory.
Angel McCoughtry scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half, leading all Atlanta scorers, while Brittney Sykes and Tiffany Hayes added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
“This is the first time I’m the oldest person on the team, so I have to lead by example,” McCoughtry said.
“We have the group to do it this year, our bench is very deep, deeper than I’ve ever had in my career, it’s great to see [Brittney] Sykes and them come off with energy, we don’t lose anything so it’s great to play with them.”
Gray led all L.A. scorers with 18 points, while Candace Parker added 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists on a night where she had to work extremely hard for each basket.
The Sparks found themselves leading 41-37 at halftime but it was the final quarter where they were completely out of sync.
“I think it just was a combination of things,” Parker said on her team’s fourth-quarter ineffectiveness. “We couldn’t get shots, and we weren’t scoring, and you’re constantly playing secondary defense in transition, so I think that hurts us. I like when we get our defense set, and I like our chances.”
It was also evident that L.A. desperately missed two key players who play heavy minutes consistently, as the team ran out of gas late in the game.
Nneka Ogwumike was sidelined for her third straight game with an illness and Alana Beard was unable to play due to a groin injury.
However, with only eight games remaining in the regular season, this experienced and veteran group know they still must make adjustments going forward.
“We gotta figure it out coming out of break,” Parker said on how their team plans to bounce back off tough home losses.
“We have more road games than we do home so I guess that’s good for our chances, but we have to figure it out at home, I don’t ever remember a time for us losing five straight.”
Atlanta is currently a full game ahead of the Minnesota Lynx (15-10) for the second overall spot in league standings, while the Lynx are a half-game ahead of the Sparks for the third spot.
L.A. returns to home Thursday, Aug.2 as they will host the Lynx in a pivotal Western Conference matchup, hoping to avoid their sixth consecutive loss at home.