Los Angeles (July 1, 2018) – The Los Angeles Sparks avenged their Friday loss to the Aces, taking down Las Vegas 87-71 Sunday at the Staples Center.
The Sparks jumped out to an early 12-4 lead to start the game, a run highlighted by two 3-pointers from Chelsea Gray and two layups from Nneka Ogwumike, playing in her first game since June 24. At the 6:33 mark, Aces rookie A’ja Wilson picked up her second foul, but Las Vegas surged to a 10-2 run behind three Tamera Young jumpers to tie the game at 14. With the Sparks up a point, Candace Parker got on the board with her first three of the afternoon, and the Sparks finished the quarter on an 8-2 run to finish the first up 30-20.
Los Angeles came out firing again in the second quarter, with an Odyssey Sims three-pointer and Gray pull-up jumper fueling a 9-2 run that gave the Sparks a 37-22 lead. Wilson’s foul trouble continued in the second, as she checked out with her third personal with 6:49 to play. Gray then nailed a long ball, followed by a Sims jumper to extend the Sparks’ lead to 22 points. With 3:23 left, Kayla McBride hit a three-pointer to pull the score to 50-31, but the next possession saw Candace Parker find Jantel Lavender for the driving layup. Essence Carson then broke out a pretty step-back move to set up her second three-pointer of the game, giving Los Angeles the 55-34 lead. The Sparks would take a 59-37 lead into the half. Los Angeles shot 73.5 percent (25-34) from the field in the first half, with Gray leading all scorers with 11 points. The Aces shot at a 61.5% (16-26) percent clip.
Ogwumike opened the third-quarter scoring with a short corner jumper, giving her double-digit scoring totals in each of the games in which she has played this season. With the Sparks up 63-37, a free throw from Wilson gave the Aces their first point of the quarter at the 6:25 mark. Las Vegas then went on a 12-0 run to pull within 15 with 3:06 to play in the third, highlighted by two A’ja Wilson jumpers as she saw her first extended minutes of the night. Parker stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer, giving her 12 points on the night. A pair of free throws from Aces center Ji-Su Park would send the Sparks into the fourth quarter with a 71-56 lead.
Wilson stayed hot to start the fourth, sinking an and-one jumper to open the scoring. She couldn’t convert the free throw, and Riquna Williams answered with five straight points to push the score to 76-68. A Kelsey Plum 3-pointer pulled the Aces to within 12 with 4:20 remaining, but back-to-back buckets from Lavender and Maria Vadeeva gave the Sparks the 82-66 lead. Karlie Samuelson saw her first minutes of the game, hitting a 15-foot jumper with 1:41 left. The Sparks would go on to win 87-71.
Five players finished in double figures for the Sparks, with Lavender leading all scorers with a season-high 17 points. Young led the Aces with 16 points on 7-13 shooting, adding eight assists.