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Canada’s shot propels Sparks past Fever, ends losing streak

Nneka Ogwumike blows past Kristy Wallace for the bucket in the first half. WNBA/Getty Images photo.
Nneka Ogwumike blows past Kristy Wallace for the bucket in the first half. WNBA/Getty Images photo.

Jordin Canada’s improvised play proved to be the game winner for the Sparks Tuesday, as they edged the Fever, 79-78, to snap an eight-game losing streak.

Trailing by 2 points with under 10 seconds to go, the ball was supposed to go to forward Nneka Ogwumike. But as she was being heavily guarded by Indiana center Aliyah Boston, Canada ran the ball around the key, pulled up from the right side and launched a 3-point shot that didn’t touch the net when it swished in.

With just 3.2 seconds left, Kelsey Mitchell was able to get a shot off for the Fever, but it hit the rim.

Canada, who finished with 20 points and 10 assists, said she’d been confident in her shooting throughout the matchup.

“When I saw she was being denied by Boston, I just took it, and thankfully it went in,” she said.

Ogwumike had 30 points for the Sparks, and Azura Stevens added 15. Mitchell lead the visitors with 19 points.

Coach Curt Miller said Canada’s heroics was a matter of “great players making great plays,” but added that the entire team was determined going into the game.

Ending the losing streak – it’s great to have that monkey is off our back,” he said. “We took a step in the right direction with the right energy tonight.”

LA has been challenged this season, as seven different players have rotated in and out of availability due to injury and illness. Canada said she and her teammates have been resilient.

“We’re developing chemistry and have had several different lineups,” she said. “We’re learing each other, being patient and keeping our composure. We want to continue to build and stay aggressive.”

Indiana has dropped 10 of their 17 losses by four points or less, and coach Christie Sides was visibly frustrated after their loss to the Sparks.

“Enough is enough when it comes to what we’re trying to do, and how we keep failing in this area right here, at the end,” she said. “In the last three minutes we gave up 12 points. We miss a shot and we don’t sacrifice ourselves at the end to jump on that loose ball.”

“We keep talking about the same things…..we talked about it at the (last) timeout. We just didn’t execute at the end.”

Victoria Vivians, who had 17 points for the Fever, said the youth of the team can’t be blamed any longer, as the season is more than halfway over.

“We’ve just got to execute better defensively and offensively, we’ve got to be better as a team,” she said. “It’s always the details….in the game of basketball, everything is small details.”

“We’ve just got to buy into what the coach is saying.”

In the locker room afterward, Sides showed the team the last few minutes of the game, while it was fresh in their minds and they were “hurting,” in the hopes of instilling some urgency, as they face LA again Thursday.

“It’s going to take sacrifice, discipline – just playing for something bigger than you,” Sides said. “We have several opportunities to close the game out, and we don’t make those decisions.”

“We’ve spent so much time since the break working on end-of-the-game scenarios, and it’s got to start translating.”

Tipoff for the rematch is at 12:30 p.m.

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