The first sign that it wasn’t going to be the Sparks’ night came just before tipoff.
Los Angeles was set to play the Connecticut Sun in the win-or-go-home second round of the WNBA playoffs, when it was announced that Sparks power forward Nneka Ogwumike would not play due to a migraine.
But losing the former MVP was just the start of an excruciating evening for the Sparks, who lost to the Sun 73-59 to end their postseason run before it could truly begin.
The Sparks were the more rested of the teams, having received a bye to the second round. And the higher seed after finishing third in the regular season. But it didn’t matter as L.A. failed to reach the semifinals for the second time in three years, and was eliminated by Connecticut for the second year in a row.
The Sparks’ other former MVP, Candace Parker, gave it her all with 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. But she didn’t get enough support to turn the tide.
The Sparks dug themselves an early hole. After opening with a 6-2 lead, L.A. allowed the Sun to run off 15 unanswered points. The Sparks went 4 for 19 from the floor in the first quarter, and scored only two points in the final 6:29 of the quarter as Connecticut built a 14-point lead.
The eight points the Sparks scored were their fewest in any quarter this season. Maybe it was the shock of not having Ogwumike, but Parker saw it more as a culmination of the losing streak the Sparks ended the season with.
“We played terrible games to end this season. We went from all season not losing two in a row to losing three straight,” Parker said. “So honestly, I don’t think we can blame that on why we started the first quarter slow.”
L.A. chipped away to get within six in the second quarter, behind scoring, playmaking and rim protection from Parker. But the momentary surge was quickly washed away by another big Connecticut run, this time 12-0.
So even after Connecticut forward DeWanna Bonner’s buzzer-beating layup attempt stayed atop the rim to end the second quarter, the Sun held a 39-23 lead at the half.
After the two quarters, no Spark was in double-figures in scoring and Chelsea Gray had zero points or assists to her name.
It was one of several gut-punch statistics for the Sparks.
They didn’t hit their first 3-pointer until there was 2:02 left in the third quarter. They made fewer than one-third of their shot attempts, but only grabbed seven offensive rebounds. They had 14 turnovers to Connecticut’s eight.
Midway through the third quarter, Coach Derek Fisher was pleading with his players to leave it all out on the court.
“We out here just going through the motions like, ‘I’ll have a game next year, or yeah, I’m getting ready to go overseas, or I’m getting ready to … ‘ That’s not right,” Fisher said in a huddle aired by the ESPN2 broadcast. “That’s not a commitment to the team everybody sacrificed to make to be here. There ain’t nothing to hold back.”
But there was no run left. The Sparks were going home, the 2020 season over and any hopes of a championship with it.
“We ran out of steam towards the end of the season, we lost a few bodies and we just haven’t been able to get ourselves back over the last couple of weeks,” Fisher said after the game. “That happens during certain seasons and this is not our time at the moment, but we’ll come back and be better for it. That’s all we can do at the moment.”آموزش سئو