The Los Angeles Sparks fell to the Chicago Sky 96-78 in their second game of the 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Entering the game, Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher touched on competing against Chicago’s offense which is one of the fastest-paced in the league.
“Hanging our hat on the defensive end is something that we really want to do as a team more often than we did last season,” Fisher said. “Great teams commit themselves on that end.”
The Sky started the first quarter with both strong interior defense and an offense jolt from Kahleah Copper, starting in the place of Diamond DeShields, who came off the bench. Copper scored seven
consecutive points early, helping the Sky jump out to a 13-point lead. Copper and Azura Stevens would end up leading all scorers with 21 points each.
Los Angeles started to climb back into the game towards the latter part of the first quarter when they found their rhythm offensively and were able to close the gap to five, trailing 19-14 after one. Brittney Sykes came off the bench scoring eight points and was 4-for-6 from the floor. She again scored in double-figures and led the Sparks with 16 points and five rebounds for the night.
The first half concluded with the Sky up 40-36, as they benefited from three Gabby Williams triples as she scored 11 first-half points. Nneka Ogwumike finished the half as the Sparks top scorer with eight points and three rebounds.
Chicago broke open the game early in the third quarter, going up by as much as 20 points.
“Chicago was ready to play and we weren’t,” Candace Parker said after the game. “They hit shots, they moved the ball, they played aggressive. I think we used everything we had to get back into the game, but Chicago played well tonight and we have to figure out ways to start the first quarter and the third quarter better.”
The Sparks struggled to slow Chicago’s offensive pace but did get a Spark from Sydney Wiese who hit two 3-pointers to help LA close the third quarter on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 66-55 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Sky answered back right away in the fourth quarter, continuing to get to the basket and hit 3-pointers. All five starters for Chicago hit double-digit scoring and seven players scored at least nine points. The Sky were able to pull off this victory without starter Stefanie Dolson who missed the game due to an ankle injury. The Sparks were without Marie Gülich (ankle) and Te’a Cooper (illness).
Despite the loss, Nneka Ogwumike (13), Riquna Williams (12), Chelsea Gray (10), and Brittney Sykes (16) scored in double-figures. Chelsea Gray added seven assists for the second straight game.
“I just know every time I step on that court, I just got to be ready to play,” Sykes said after the game. “I know that I’m an energy player, I know that I create possessions for my team, whether it’s on the defensive end or the offensive end, so for me I just got to come in and do my job.”
The Sparks next game is against the Connecticut Sun on Thursday, July 30 at 10ET on ESPN.
Los Angeles Highlights:
- Brittney Sykes led the team in scoring with 16 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes.
- Four Sparks players scored in double-digits, including Brittney Sykes and Riquna Williams.
- The Sparks bench totaled 30 points.
- Nneka Ogwumike and Brittney Sykes both scored efficiently, shooting 6-10 and 6-9 respectively.
- Chelsea Gray added seven assists for the second straight game.