Sparks’ playoff hopes all but extinguished with blowout loss to Sun – San Bernardino Sun

LOS ANGELES — It was a must-win game for the Sparks against the Connecticut Sun but they didn’t have an answer for All-Star center Jonquel Jones, who scored 18 of her game-high 21 points in the first half, as the Sparks lost, 97-71 on Tuesday night at Arena.

The loss dropped the Sparks to 13-21 and 11th in the WNBA standings. Only the top eight teams in the 12-team league make the playoffs.

“It’s a must-win for us,” Sparks interim head coach Fred Williams said before tip-off. “That’s for sure. We want to stay in the (playoff) hunt.”

The Sparks jumped out to an early 10-2 lead but Connecticut (23-11) responded with a 15-0 scoring run and led 27-17 and the end of the first quarter.

All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike, who finished with 16 points, three rebounds and four steals, helped the Sparks battle back in the second quarter. They cut Connecticut’s lead to five points at 35-30, but the visitors answered again and pushed their lead to 45-32 with 2:09 left in the first half.

The Sparks trailed 53-32 at halftime and were down 78-56 after three quarters.

Sparks guard Brittney Sykes had a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds and six steals. Guard Jordin Canada had 15 points and six assists.

The Sparks were outrebounded 40-23 by Connecticut, which shot 50.7% from the field and 42.1% from 3-point range.

Connecticut general manager and head coach Curt Miller, who was an assistant coach with the Sparks in 2015, said he has fond memories of his time in Los Angeles, which helped him transition from 24 years coaching college basketball to the WNBA.

“If I don’t get a season as an assistant (with the Sparks), I would have failed in this league,” Miller shared. “It’s different. It’s so different. If I would have come directly from head coach to head coach, I would not have been prepared for the drastic differences that really the game is and are and I was mentored well by (former Sparks head coach) Brian Angler in that six months … my first season in the WNBA, I got to work with Alana Beard, Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, I pinch myself that that’s how I got my start, as much as six months can be special, it was a really special time for me, really fond and proud that I started my journey here.”


The Sparks, who have lost seven of their past eight games, will host Connecticut again on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. PT, with two games remaining in the regular season.

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