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WNBA Sparks vs. Mystics: LA is still learning how to close games

The Sparks have played five home games this season, and four of them are a possession game in the final minute. Despite having a double-digit lead in the second half of those three contests (against Mercury, Wings and Mystics), LA has given each of those teams a chance to tie or advance in the waning moments of the match.

The disturbing pattern raised its ugly head once again against Washington on Tuesday, as Sparks gave up a 14-point lead in the final five minutes and Natasha Cloud tied the game at 2.5 seconds on the line for three free throws. Play. Cloud lost a second – The confession recalls Ogunbovale a few weeks ago – As LA escaped, but the ending was much nervier than it should have been.

“In the last three minutes, I thought we really played some solid defense down the stretch of the shot clock, and then all of a sudden they hit three and there was a foul, and they get it back a little bit,” head coach Fred Williams said after the game. “But the main thing for us is to close our games, and we closed it and came up with the W.

“I thought it was painful for us to not get close enough on three-point shots and it got them back. Cloud made it happen for the couple and all of a sudden, you’ve got a two-point ball game or a tie game, so I’m really proud that we hung in there and it The play experience is for young women. ”

Los Angeles Sparks vs. Washington Mystics

During the pregame, Fred Williams highlighted Natasha Cloud as a player involving Sparks. That proved to be a precursor to the fourth.
Photo by Juan Ocampo / NBAE via Getty Images

That gave up 31 points in the fourth quarter, which shed light on the Sparks’ defensive struggles of late. And that was definitely part of the problem – going under the cloud and losing Alisha Clark from the offensive rebound scramble were unforgivable errors. But a bad process from LA resulted in transactions, and there were problems with crime, as the Mystics capitalized on those offers.

Through three quarters, Sparks has looked really fluid on offense, the cleanest since his transition from Derek Fisher to Williams. The decision to stun Britney Sykes and Jordyn Canada often helped maximize the team’s gap, with Kristy Tolliver, Lexi Brown and Katie Lou Samuelson all on the court at one time, and two more minutes. The strong ground balance on offense was well-drafted in the LA conversion defense, and Washington had just four fast-break points in the first 30 minutes.

Of the four, perhaps because Brown was limited with a sprained ankle, the Sparks held more defensive-first lineups that were not limited to any gap, particularly with Sykes and Canada backing together in the backcourt. Those two shared the column at 3:35, this time Sparks scored nine. On a related note, the team had six trades during the period that led to 13 Mystic points. Nowhere is the better process that LA has previously demonstrated in the game.

After technically assessing Mike Thibault and Cloud, allowing the Sparks to extend their lead to 14, this is how the post-offensive property for LA went:

  • Bad pass from Canada to Roller Olivia Nelson-Ododa
  • Nelson-Ododa makes an aggressive foul post (to be fair, this call is suspected)
  • Sykes pull-up jumper Liz Cambage pulls his defender off the screen
  • Cambage aggressive foul while clearing Shakira Austin

Did you notice any player missing in any of those offensive sequences? All-star star Nneka Ogwumike, who only finished 9-of-13 from the field? The next three possessions also excluded Ogumwick, who each time Canada had the ball in her hands, including an unexplained separation against Alisha Clark. As a former Seattle Storm teammate, Canada should know better.

Interestingly, despite LA playing its best defensive backcourt, the defense is still struggling to get stops. And because the Sparks couldn’t force trades, they couldn’t get into the open court for easy shots, where they played well before.

The good news is that LA has already built enough cushion to withstand the delayed Washington race. Sparks depth proved to be good – Chini Ogwumik and Canada each had two-digit scoring attempts off the bench, and Nelson-Ododa chipped in six. The early Sykes helped limit Cloud and Ariel Atkins (the pair had just 17 points before the fourth), and the home team was active in passing lanes, knowing that the Mystics would have to rely on ball movement without their separate hub, Elena Delle. Donne.

LA was able to turn to Nneka Ogwumike for big plays. The captain made herself available when the sparks came up the ball in 10 seconds, and then she made both free throws. When Washington needed an offensive rebound to tie the game on Cloud’s last free throw, Ogwumik took over and ended the comeback.

The rest of the team learns how to get rid of clutch situations, while Ogwumike already knows how to do the job. Relying too much on her may help sparks some of her late game execution problems.

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