Sparks aim to complete Phoenix’s 2-game sweep on Friday – Daily Breeze

After an impressive win over the Phoenix Mercury, the Sparks have another chance at their rivals in the Western Conference on Friday night.

The Sparks (5-5) rode into Wednesday’s game and had a two-game losing streak. Losing to the Washington Mystics and Minnesota Lynx, they came out sluggish, dropped early in double digits and then struggled to fill the gap.

Against Phoenix (now 5-7), the Sparks were the aggressor and never let go of the gas in an 85-80 win. After building a 14-point lead, the hosts fought off a late run in the second half thanks to the heroics of guard Erica Wheeler.

She had 10 points in the fourth quarter against the Mercury and leads the WNBA in the coupling points (points come in the last few minutes of close games). Against Minnesota, Wheeler left the game with a head injury and the Sparks comeback in the second half was without her.

“We missed that in the fourth quarter of this game in Minneapolis,” said Sparks manager / GM Derek Fisher. “She has the ability and the confidence to play late in the game; and we need that. “

It’s hard to beat the Mercury when Brittney Griner is 6 feet 9 above the pack, but the Sparks were almost level on Wednesday with 14 offensive rebounds, converting that into 23 points for second chance.

Sparks Guard Brittney Sykes led the effort with nine rebounds, including five offensive.

“We have such an athletic team that there should be no reason not to reach these boards,” said Sykes. “When I got the first two, I realized it was open all night.”

Prior to the first of two matchups, Fisher said the Sparks would need to use their speed and versatility to make up for the lack of size.

Whenever they had the ball, the Sparks tried to squeeze the ball to get more options out of the early offensive. Despite accelerating the pace, they only flipped the ball five times.

Griner still dominated, hitting a season high of 30 points while adding 10 rebounds. After the game, the six-time all-star hobbled out of the locker room in hiking boots. There was no official word on their status for Friday’s game on Thursday afternoon.

The stars on both benches, Nneka Ogwumike (left knee) and Diana Taurasi (sternum) are likely to miss more time. Ogwumike sprained his knee on June 1st and is out for two to four weeks. Taurasi was given four weeks’ notice after breaking a breastbone on May 16. The league’s top scorer of all time warmed up with her teammates ahead of Wednesday’s game.

Fisher said Tuesday that Chiney, Ogwumike’s younger sister, was making good progress after missing multiple games with a knee injury, but that they didn’t want to push her back.

The Sparks will get another player on Friday, security guard Te’a Cooper, who adds help to the active list of just nine. Cooper was serving her one-game suspension on Wednesday for leaving the sideline during an on-pitch confrontation with the Lynx.

The Sparks and Mercury are two of the three original WNBA franchises that remain (along with the New York Liberty) as the league celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The Sparks have the most aggregate wins in league history (481) and Phoenix is ​​runner-up (460). Friday is the 90th meeting of the two teams and the Sparks are leading the series 55-34.

“Teams like ours, teams like Mercury that have performed excellently for more than two decades … will go a long way in helping us grow for the next 25 years,” said Fisher.

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