LOS ANGELES – After winning the 500th game in franchise history in 97-89 against Dallas on Friday, the Sparks are turning the page for their oldest rivals.
The Sparks (8-11) will host the New York Liberty (8-11), one of the original eight teams of the WNBA, at the Crypto.com Arena on Sunday at 3 p.m. Both teams are in the mix for the final three playoff places and Sunday’s matchup is the first of three matches between them this season.
The Liberty game would be the first of a seven-game homestand for the Sparks until July 21, when they played 12 of their first 19 games on the road.
Meanwhile, with Sparks guard Brittany Sykes ruled out due to health and safety protocols, guards Christy Tolliver and Lexi Brown played more minutes against the Wings on Friday. Tolivar had a season-high 11 points and seven assists in 26 minutes. Brown, who played a team-high 33 minutes, had 13 points, including a 3 of 6 from a 3-point range, which helped to stretch the space and the floor.
Sparks interim head coach Fred Williams recently returned point guard Jordin Canada to the lineup with four points, two assists and two steals in 13 minutes, after missing two games with a non-COVID related illness. Worked.
Sparks guard Chenady Carter, whom Williams said was also battling an illness, played his most minutes against the Dallas Wings since June 11. The Fort Worth, Texas native had five points, three rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes on Friday and can count for more time against Liberty, including All-Star starter guard Sabrina Ionescu and French national player Marine Johannes. , which averages a career-high of about 12 points per game and four assists in seven games this season.
Williams said of Carter, “As we go along and play games, they’re going to take minutes because we have those coming back-to-back — New York and Phoenix.” “I don’t want to rush him to get out so early, a little under the weather. I thought he did a really good job (against Dallas) in the minutes.”
Sparks had at least 11 points against the Wings: Neneka Ogwumike (21), Liz Cambage (21), Katie Lou Samuelson (14), Brown (13) and Tolliver (11).
“Looking forward to this win, it’s all about the focus for us,” said Sparks All-Star starter forward Neneka Ogwumike. “It’s all about solidarity and every sport we’re working on, every right should be better.”
However, against New York, Ogwumike and Cambage will have to contend with Liberty All-Star forward Natasha Howard, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds per game this season.
“If you’re not talking, you’re not playing defense,” Williams said. “I want them to communicate more. If it’s on offense or defense, just enjoy playing basketball and figure it out. What I’m giving them is what they have. I can only give them structure.” And they’re doing a good job of owning it.”
Meanwhile, Williams said he is relying on his foundational experience as head coach of the WNBA with the Utah Starz, Atlanta Dream, Tulsa Shock and Dallas Wings in 1999, but also ensures that he At Sparks is open to creative collaboration from its players.
“For me, it’s peace of things, don’t panic,” Williams said. “The overall aspect of myself, I’m going to bring a lot of energy and a purpose and a passion to exercise every day and I’m going to run, get them on the floor, conditioning, just run a little bit more. And for them, I Feedback comes from a lot of players about what they feel, what they think.
“Some of them, I asked them to design their favorite play and I put it in my playbook and some days I could play it in a game for them, and that would give me a coach to learn more about them.” But they also know that I am trying to teach them and they want to be taught. Pro players at this level want to be taught all the time.”