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May 9, 2022 1:33 am

New-look Sparks top Fever, stay unbeaten

Liz Cambage scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Sunday as the visiting Los Angeles Sparks overcame some ragged play to defeat the Indiana Fever 87-77 at Indianapolis.

In improving to 2-0, Los Angeles also got 17 points from Brittney Sykes and 13 from Nneka Ogwumike, plus 12 off the bench from Chennedy Carter. The Sparks shot 47.9 percent from the field and earned a 41-33 rebounding advantage, more than enough to offset 19 turnovers.

Rookie Destanni Henderson scored 19 points to pace Indiana (0-2), converting 3 of 4 3-pointers. Another rookie, NaLyssa Smith, added 13 points and nine rebounds. Kelsey Mitchell had 15 points but made only 6 of 20 shots, while Alanna Smith tallied 10 in a reserve role.

The Fever were 10 of 26 from 3-point range (38.5 percent) but converted just 37.2 percent of their field-goal attempts. They also allowed more than 80 points for the second straight game, a common occurrence last year when they finished with the WNBA’s worst record.

Mitchell’s 3-pointer with 3:00 remaining pulled Indiana within 74-69, but Cambage, in her first season with the Sparks, sank two free throws and converted a three-point play to increase the margin to 79-69 with 2:11 remaining.

In its follow-up game after a 98-91 overtime win Friday night at Chicago, Los Angeles was out of sync early. It needed 2 1/2 minutes to score its first points and took most of the first half to find a rhythm.

That allowed Indiana, which started three rookies for the second straight game, to stay within striking distance. The Fever led for much of the first quarter, but Cambage converted a three-point play at the 1:18 mark to give the Sparks an 18-17 edge.

Indiana fought back and owned a 31-27 advantage on Henderson’s driving layup with 4:25 left in the first half. But Los Angeles rattled off 12 consecutive points and established a 43-36 halftime lead.

Down 10 early in the third quarter, the Fever went on a 14-4 run, equalizing at 52-all on a Henderson runner. However, the Sparks responded with six straight points and took a 58-53 margin to the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

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