Sparks playing themselves out of the playoffs

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Sparks are trending downward at the moment after absorbing their third loss in a row. The Sparks have lost all three of those games by double-digits. Their latest defeat is courtesy of the WNBA champs Chicago Sky. The Sky, using a 31-point third quarter, handed the Sparks an 80-68 loss at Crypto.com Arena.

Anf they did it without getting anything from star forward Candace Parker. Parker, who played 13 seasons for the Sparks and became the face of the franchise before moving on to Chicago, where she led the Sky to the WNBA title last season, didn’t do anything to hurt Los Angeles on the scoreboard. In nearly 27 minutes of play, Parker scored the grand total of zero points, going 0-11 on her field goal attempts.

Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker (3) on the court against the Los Angeles Sparks on July 14, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

After being outscored by 11 points in the third period, the Sparks tried to make up ground in the fourth quarter by holding the Sky to just 12 points. But by that time it was pretty much a foregone conclusion what team was going to win this game. To the Sparks’ credit, they did play the game without the services of center Liz Cambage.

The good news for Los Angeles is that the team has a short hiatus after falling to an opponent for the third time in as many games. The Sparks play the Indiana Fever on July 19, which should allow the team plenty of rest and time to regroup for the second half of the season. As far as the season goes, this has been a hard journey for Los Angeles. The Sparks are No. 9 in the WNBA standings. Making the postseason is going to be an uphill climb.

The Sparks still have an opportunity to turn things around. But in looking at the last three games that they have played at home against the Sky, Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics, the Sparks have played sloppy basketball and have played like a rudderless ship.

The Sparks had a competitive first quarter against Seattle in a 106-69 defeat, but then saw things quickly get out of hand as they entered the second quarter. The energy and play that the Sparks played with in the first period evaporated over the course of the game. Sparks interim head coach Fred Williams said the game shifted in the second quarter.

Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

“I thought the second quarter is where we kind of faded out on the defensive end,” Williams remarked. “We lost a lot of energy and rhythm with players we don’t have on the bench right now.”

 The Sparks struggled on defense all night against Seattle. This has been an issue all season long for Los Angeles. In a defensive rating report, the Sparks currently are ranked towards the bottom of the league. They are ranked second to last place in terms of defensive rating, allowing an average of 105.5 points a game.

Seattle got whatever it wanted to do against the Sparks. Seattle shot an impressive 65 percent from the field for the game against the Sparks. The Storm also connected on 47 percent of their 3-point shooting attempts. The Sparks were not able to keep up with the onslaught.

This blowout loss to Seattle adds to what has been a disappointing record for the Sparks so far this season. With an opportunity to finally reach a .500 record, the Sparks did not come close. They now sit at 10-14. Being down some players in the loss to Seattle definitely contributed to such a big loss to the Storm, but the margin of much they lost by is disappointing.

Entering the All-Star break, the Sparks will be looking to regroup and finish the season strong. Getting healthy and fixing key issues for the team during this break is vital for a potential playoff push. Sitting 3rd place in the West, and tied for the 6th overall best record, the Sparks will need to play better in order to succeed for a playoff run.

Reporter Leslie “Andre” Adkins contributed to this article

Featured Image Photo Credit: Melinda Meijers. Caption: Los Angeles Sparks center Liz Cambage drives to the basket against the Seattle Storm at Crypto.com Arena on July 7, 2022.

Dennis J. Freeman

Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. "I write what I'm passionate about."