Sparks Go Cold, Fall to Mystics 80-72

The Los Angeles Sparks fell short against the Washington Mystics, losing 80-72. Myisha Hines-Allen scored a game-high 30 points on 13-for-20 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. The game came down to the wire as Candace Parker tied the game with 3:46 remaining at 68-68. Chelsea Gray added to her team-best clutch points with four points in the final two minutes, but Hines-Allen sealed the game by making back-to-back three-pointers with less than two minutes remaining. The Mystics are now tied for the eighth and final playoff spot with the Dallas Wings, while the Sparks still clinched a top three playoff seed as they move to 15-6 on the season.

Before the game, Head Coach Derek Fisher stated that “the main key tonight is that we can’t allow the game to mean more to Washington than it does to us….Defensively, we want to finish possessions with rebounding.” The team did grab a season-high 41 rebounds and 13 offensive rebounds but shot just 41.4% from the field and 25% on 3-pointers.

MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Candace Parker continued her strong campaign with nine points, six assists, and a season-high 17 rebounds. Parker recorded seven rebounds in the first quarter alone and grabbed more offensive rebounds (4) than the entire Mystics team (3). The Sparks also received a solid contribution from Nneka Ogwumike, who totaled 15 points, six assists, and three steals. Chelsea Gray continued her strong September with 21 points and seven rebounds.

The biggest milestone for the Sparks came from Seimone Augustus, who recorded her 6,000th career point in this game, making her only the tenth player in WNBA history to hit this threshold.

The game was back and forth in the first half. The Sparks led 20-15 after the first quarter, but the Mystics battled back to tie the game at 36-36. After a Riquna Williams triple capped off a 9-0 run from the Sparks to go up 45-36, Hines-Allen hit a buzzer-beat from half court to steal the momentum and cut the LA lead to 45-39 at halftime.

Washington did most of their damage in the third quarter, where the Mystics outscored the Sparks 23-12, taking advantage of eight uncharacteristic Sparks turnovers. Emma Meesseman scored eight of her 14 total points in this quarter alone, as they entered the fourth quarter leading 62-57.

The Sparks got right back into the game in the fourth quarter as Te’a Cooper and Brittney Sykes began the period by hitting consecutive triples. Cooper ended the night with seven points in her second career start, and Sykes contributed 11 points in her first game back from an abdominal contusion. But the Mystics forced crucial turnovers and made big shots at the end of the game. The Sparks were without Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (shoulder injury) and Sydney Wiese (ankle injury) tonight.

After the game, Coach Derek Fisher stated “Hopefully [this game] serves as a strong reminder that we can’t ever allow any opponent to outwork us, and still expect us to win.”

Sparks play their final game of the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 12 against the Las Vegas Aces, where there are still scenarios to finish with the No. 2 seed with the win (the Sparks can finish no lower than No.3). The game is at Noon PT on Spectrum SportsNet, NBATV, and League Pass.

Los Angeles Highlights:

• Seimone Augustus scored her 6,000 career point, becoming just the 10th player in WNBA history to reach that milestone.

• Three Sparks scored in double-digits; Chelsea Gray led with 21 points and seven rebounds, followed by Nneka Ogwumike with 15 points and six rebounds and Brittney Sykes with 11 points and five rebounds.

• Candace Parker amassed 17 rebounds, a season-high for the MVP candidate.