Sparks Dominate Fever in First Game in Front of Fans

The Los Angeles Sparks (3-3) defeated the Indiana Fever (1-9) 98-62 Friday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was the team’s second largest margin of victory in franchise history, and a new season high in scoring. Los Angeles played in front of fans for the first time since the final home game of the 2019 season. Guard Bria Holmes had the largest individual plus-minus by a Sparks player in a game at +39, passing Lisa Leslie and Alana Beard who held the feat prior at +38. Sparks players Kristi Toliver (22), Te’a Cooper (15), and Holmes (14) recorded new season highs in scoring. The Sparks were without forwards Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. The team announced Thursday Nneka will be out 4-6 weeks with a left knee sprain and Chiney is week-to-week.

The Sparks led 25-14 at the end of quarter one as they shot a blistering 55.6 percent from behind-thearc, while the Fever shot just 27.8 percent from the field. Sparks Center Amanda Zahui B started the game off strong with a right wing elbow jumper, and a long three-pointer from the left wing. Nia Coffey once again asserted herself as a rim protector, blocking two shots in the first period, while Brittney Sykes recorded two steals.

Los Angeles clicked offensively in the second quarter and took a 48-25 lead at halftime. Two-time WNBA Champion Kristi Toliver led all scorers with 15 first-half points while shooting 62.4 percent from the field. The Sparks played stifling first-half defense, holding the fever to just 25.6 percent shooting from the field, which left head Coach Derek Fisher impressed, but not satisfied.

“I think we have to be a team that’s disruptive, that creates turnovers,” Fisher said. “And we did a better job of converting most of those opportunities tonight and hopefully we can build on that as we move forward.”

The Sparks had one of their most explosive offensive nights of the 2021 season, leading 71-43 at the end of three quarters. Toliver led all scorers with 22 points at the end of three. She rolled off a pair of Zahui B. ’s screens to knock down an elbow jumper and a 3-pointer to put the Sparks ahead 67-39. Zahui B. faked a hand-off to Toliver at the top of the key, then turned around and knocked down a 25 foot jumper to end the third quarter.

Indiana shot just 34.3 percent from the field for the game, while guard Kelsey Mitchell led all Fever scorers with 15 points. The Sparks accomplished a mission: to win their first game in front of their home crowd for the first time since 2019. The Sparks got contributions from all 8 active players, as everyone who entered the game scored at least five points.

“They felt that good pressure that ‘my team needs me’,”Fisher said. “And from what I remember from my playing experiences, when you feel like your team needs you, you perform well.”

Los Angeles will play against the Chicago Sky Saturday, June 5 at 12 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The game will air on ABC.