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Jun 6, 2024 6:48 pm

Sparks, Wings meet in search of more physical play

Cameron Brink

When the Los Angeles Sparks host the Dallas Wings for Friday’s Commissioner’s Cup matchup, both will be trying to snap three-game losing streaks.

Los Angeles (2-7) fell to 0-2 in Commissioner’s Cup play Wednesday with its third consecutive loss overall, an 86-62 setback at home against Minnesota.

Following their 87-68 loss at Phoenix on Sunday, the Sparks’ Kia Nurse said that slow starts were plaguing the team, and Wednesday’s contest was more of the same. The Lynx scored the game’s first 11 points and built a 27-12 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“Right now, we’re really, really struggling with physicality, and everyone’s seeing it on film,” Sparks coach Curt Miller told reporters. “And that’s what we’re getting every night from every team. As much as the physicality is being allowed in this league, we’ve got to make the adjustment.”

Miller offered praise for his team’s second unit, which responded to Minnesota’s physicality by cutting a 28-point deficit to 12 in the fourth quarter.

Shooting a dismal 26.0 percent (20 of 77) from the floor, with a season low in points, Los Angeles failed to reach 70 points for a second consecutive game.

Dearica Hamby, whose 17-point, 11-rebound effort marked her seventh double-double in nine games, was the only Los Angeles scorer to reach double-figures against the Lynx.

Dallas (3-5) endured a fate similar to Los Angeles in its 95-81 home loss to Las Vegas on Wednesday, falling behind 16-4 less than five minutes into the game. The Wings could not recover despite Arike Ogunbowale’s 31 points.

Ogunbowale downplayed the prevalent idea that the league’s physicality has increased this season.

“This has been like this since my rookie year (2019),” Ogunbowale said. “You get fouled, that’s what it is. … It’s basketball. It’s going to be physical, we’re going to compete.”

Ogunbowale is second in the WNBA at 27.1 points per game after her third performance of at least 31 points eight games into the Wings’ season. Her 2024 low of 20 points came in Dallas’ last matchup with Los Angeles, which was also the Wings’ most recent victory: an 84-83 decision on May 26.

Monique Billings went for 18 points and 12 rebounds against the Sparks, while Maddy Siegrist added 15 points and eight rebounds. All five Wings starters scored in double figures.

Sparks rookie Cameron Brink went for a game-high and career-best 21 points last time out vs. Dallas. She paced Los Angeles to its second-highest scoring performance of the season despite the loss.

Brink looks to bounce back Friday after scoring just two points vs. Minnesota. She has 18 total points on 7-of-22 shooting in four games since the first Dallas game.

–Field Level Media

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