LA Sparks kills the Dream again

Los Angeles, CA – No overtime was needed this time, but the LA Sparks and Atlanta Dream had another interesting ending.

Kristi Toliver missed a three-point jump shot with under five seconds left on the clock. The score was tied at 64, but Nneka Ogwemike wanted to end it in regulation time. She got the offensive rebound and made the winning shot. It was reviewed, but eventually it was declared good.

“They are definitely showing a high level of mental toughness and sticking together. That’s something we talked about all season,”said head coach Derek Fisher. “They haven’t given up on each other throughout the course of the game.”

Ogwemike said she thought Toliver was the right person to have taken that shot and that she thought it was going to go in. After all, Toliver has established herself as a three-point shooter. 
She scored the first basket for Los Angeles, and it happened to also be their first three-pointer of the night. Her second, which also came in the first quarter, helped her pass Mwadi Mabika for most three-pointers in Sparks history.

Toliver went 4-of-5 from the field and finished with 10 points, five assists and four rebounds. She can play, but she can also teach. Earlier on Thursday, the news came out that she will be joining the Dallas Mavericks as an assistant coach.

“I want her to obviously shine as a coach, but she can’t stop being a player with me. Not until I say so,” joked Ogwumike after saying how happy she was for her teammate.

Ogwumike was the Sparks leading scorer with 17 points. She’s dealt with injury this season, but she’s remained a consistent scorer. She’s seen double digits in all eighth games she’s played.

The 66-64 result was the Sparks’ third straight win. They’ve won all their games since resuming the season, which was definitely needed to improve the 6-13 record they had before the break. But things won’t continue to be so easy. The Sparks will hit the road for six consecutive games and not return to Staples Center until September 9 when they host the Connecticut Sun.

It will be challenging, but Fisher sees it as an opportunity.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to really show where we are as a team and the lessons we have learned,” he said. “Winning on the road is difficult to do in any sport. Right now we have to focus on the one game we have in front of us.”

The LA Sparks travel to New York to take on the Liberty on Sunday, August 22.