Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Sparks regrouped early to quell the Indiana Fever’s first half battle to maintain a perfect home record with a 80-62 win at STAPLES Center on Monday night.
Chelsea Gray’s game-high 16 points combined with Nneka Ogwumike’s fifth double-double of the season easily kept the Sparks stay undefeated at home midway into the season.
“To be good at anything, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you have to enjoy what you’re doing,” Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler said. “It’s nice to see them enjoying, not only having success, but how they’re playing with each other and how they enjoy just being out there on the floor together.”
“When you do that and you build that chemistry, then you’re only going to keep getting better,” he concluded.
The Sparks (14-5) stayed aggressive driving down the lane all game, outscoring the Fever 52-16 in the paint.
“We’re trying to be consistent with not settling with outside jumpers,” Gray said, who finished 7-of-9 from the floor with five assists. “Once we get into the paint, if we don’t have a lay-up, then we’ll kick it out.”
Ogwumike finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high six assists, while forward Candace Parker also scored 14 points to go along with nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Indiana Fever guard Briann January led the team with 12 points.
“The difference in the second half was keeping (the Fever) out of the lane and also getting into the lane as well,” Parker said. “Also, we weren’t missing as easy lay-ups like we were in the first half.”
It was business as usual for the Sparks in the opening minutes of the game as Ogwumike opened up the game with back-to-back buckets and Parker grabbed consecutive steals to net a 12-4 lead.
But the Fever (7-12) came back from time-out on an 8-0 run to tie it 12-12 midway into the frame. The Sparks didn’t let up, but couldn’t score on many opportunities in the key and were forced to settle with a 22-19 lead at the end of the first.
The lead didn’t last long. Indiana grabbed a one-point, 27-26 lead less than three minutes into the second quarter off of a Tiffany Mitchell corner three.
Then Parker, who didn’t score in the first quarter, netted back-to-back baskets to regain the Sparks’ lead.
Both teams failed to score for two minutes before Sparks rookie Sydney Wiese nailed one from distance to cap a 10-0 run and net a 37-27 lead with less than three minutes left in the half.
The Fever’s drought didn’t last much longer after that, as Mitchell sank a pair of free-throws before the half ended.
The Sparks started cruising through the second half and stretched the lead to 19 in the third.
Gray and Ogwumike continued to stroll down the lane and handing out scoring opportunities to Parker, Riquna Williams and Alana Beard, and kept the Fever out at bay struggling to regroup.