Sparks avenge loss to dominate Wings, 97-87

Chelsea Gray drives to the basket. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.
Chelsea Gray drives to the basket. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.

Los Angeles – Last week the Dallas Wings upset the Los Angeles Sparks. Tuesday night, the defending WNBA Champions made sure lightening didn’t strike twice, as they dominated the visitors, 97-87.

Chelsea Gray led five Los Angeles players in double figures, with 24 points, while Nneka Ogwumike added 21 and Candace Parker, 17.

The Sparks came out on fire, shooting 62 and 73 percent, respectively, in each of the first two quarters, while holding the Wings to a season-low eight points in the first period. Dallas outscored the hosts, 27-25 in the second quarter, spearheaded by rookie Allisha Gray’s nine points. But Los Angeles used a balanced attack in the third frame to pad their lead to 72-52 by the end.

The Wings mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, led by Skylar Diggins-Smith, who scored 12 of her game-high 28 points in the period. They out-shot the Sparks, 60-35 percent, but it was not enough to overcome the earlier deficit.

Los Angeles coach Brian Agler said his squad played well against a tough opponent.

Skylar Diggins erupted in the second half and finished with 28 points. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.
Skylar Diggins erupted in the second half and finished with 28 points. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.

“They are a tough team to play against,” he said. “They are constantly taking things to the basket….they space the floor very aggressively, but I liked our focus. We got a lead and we sustained it. They got back in it a couple of times, and we went back up. Overall, I thought it was a really good game for us.”

In their previous match up, the Wings held the Sparks scoreless for a time. Tuesday it was Los Angeles preventing Dallas from making a bucket for almost five minutes in the first quarter. Diggins-Smith said their poor start is what did them in.

“We definitely have to make sure we come out with a better start, especially on the road,” she said. “I feel like we played the rest of the game pretty even….but I think the difference was on the defensive end for us getting stops, and they made a few runs that were long. So we understand that we’ve got to do a better job.”

Glory Johnson tries to block Candace Parker's shot. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.
Glory Johnson tries to block Candace Parker’s shot. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.

The 6-3 Sparks are now tied with the New York Liberty for third in league standings, while the 4-7 Wings drop to tenth.