LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Sparks postseason run ended this past Sunday in Long Beach with a 3-0 series loss to the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Semifinals. The game ended a successful 2019 season that saw the team finish in 3rdplace in the WNBA standings, win 22 games and rattle off a 14 game winning streak at Staples Center. The organization became the first WNBA team to win 450 regular season games and added to its league record of 19 playoff appearances in 23 seasons.
“I’m just really proud of my team,” six-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike said after the season. “We had a lot of new things thrown at us. We had a hard July. I’m proud of my team and happy to be with this organization. Obviously it didn’t end how we wanted it to but I’m happy with my team.”
Head Coach Derek Fisher added: “Any time your season ends with a loss, it’s immensely disappointing and frustrating. You’re almost ready for the next season to begin immediately in order to erase those feelings and begin anew. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned, however, is to truly enjoy the journey regardless. I can honestly say in my first WNBA season I am grateful and thankful for the 2019 Sparks journey.
Here’s a look back at 2019:
The 2019 offseason brought exciting change to the Sparks organization. The team hired five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher as head coach and added five new players to the 2019 roster: two-time All-Star Chiney Ogwumike (trade from Connecticut), defensive specialist Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (free agent), 2017 champion Alexis Jones (trade from Minnesota) and drafted rookies Kalani Brown and Marina Mabrey.
With an entirely new coaching staff, five new players, and players missing a combined 73 games due to injuries and suspension, the Sparks were able to increase their win total from 2018, have the 3rd best record in the league, and reach the WNBA Semifinals.
History & Milestones
The Sparks broke several records in 2019:
- The Sparks set the record for most 3-pointers made in franchise history (242)
- The Sparks tied for the best home record in the WNBA (15-2)
- The Sparks finished third in the WNBA in defensive rating
- Derek Fisher became the 9th first-year coach to win 20+ games
- Chelsea Gray recorded the 8th triple-double in WNBA regular season history on July 7 when she scored 13 points, dished out 13 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds
- Chelsea Gray eclipsed the 1500-point mark and scored a career high 30 points against the Indiana Fever on Aug. 29. In that game she set a franchise record by scoring 20 points in a quarter and hitting five 3-pointers in a quarter
- Chelsea Gray was named one of ten 2019 All-Star starters and made the All-Star team for the third time
- Nneka Ogwumike earned her sixth All-Star appearance and led the league in defensive rating. She won Player of the Month in July.
- Nneka Ogwumike passed DeLisha Milton-Jones and became the third leading scorer in Sparks franchise history behind Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie
- Nneka Ogwumike scored her 500th postseason point and moved into a tie for 16thall-time in playoff rebounds (272)
- Candace Parker became the 17th leading scorer in WNBA history
- Candace Parker ended the season 12thall-time in postseason assists (165)
- Candace Parker moved to 7thall-time in playoff scoring (871)
Attendance & Fan Support
The Sparks led the WNBA in attendance for the third consecutive season, averaging over 11,000 to Staples Center.
“We had the best fans, we had the most fans this year in terms of leading the league in attendance,” Candace Parker said. “I think that speaks volumes because there’s a lot of things to do in LA. For them to come and sit inside in the summer, that says a lot for our fans and our supporters. We really appreciate all the fans that came out to Long Beach to support us and all the fans that are in Staples night in and night out.”
Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler added: “The entire organization would like to thank the fans for filling Staples Center and your support of the three-time WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks.”
The Sparks enter the offseason poised to contend in the 2020 season. All-Stars Chelsea Gray and Nneka Ogwumike will participate in the Olympic training program in advance of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Several players will play overseas and you can hear Candace Parker commentating on TNT and Chiney Ogwumike on ESPN.
“We will learn from all of our experiences this past season and return for the 2020 WNBA season with a renewed spirit and passion for excellence,” head coach Derek Fisher said. “Thank you to all WNBA fans and specifically every Sparks fan for your unwavering love and support of this league and our team.”