Coming off a rare losing season, the Los Angeles Sparks wanted to push the pace and pile up the points.
So far, the Sparks are meeting their goal of producing offense and hope to continue being productive in the finale of a season-opening four-game road trip when they visit the Connecticut Sun, who are playing their home opener at Uncasville, Conn.
Los Angeles (2-1) went 12-20 last season when it ranked last in the league with 72.8 points per game and were 11th in field goal percentage (41.1 percent), resulting in its first losing season since 2015 and seventh in team history.
To avoid a repeat of its disappointing season, the Sparks added Liz Cambage in free agency along with perimeter players Jordin Canada, Katie Lou Samuelson and Chennedy Carter. While Samuelson has yet to appear, Canada and Cambage each have averaged 16.7 points per game, while Neneka Ogwumike is at 16.3 points.
The Sparks are averaging 86.7 points, fourth best in the WNBA heading into play Friday, while shooting 43.8 percent. Los Angeles opened the season by shooting 49.2 percent in a seven-point overtime win at Chicago and a 47.9 percent in a 10-point win at Indiana on Sunday but dropped to 34.7 percent in a 77-75 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday.
“For a new group, and not having a lot of experience together, (they) still remain calm through adversity on the road,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher said. “Often it takes a little time for a team to stay together on the road. … I think our veteran leaders are setting a great example of how to stay the course and continue to play one possession at a time.
The Sun (0-1), had the league’s top regular season record last season at 26-6 before falling to the eventual champion Chicago Sky in the semifinals. They are again among preseason picks to win the title.
But Connecticut dropped its season-opener 81-79 to the New York Liberty last Saturday.
Alyssa Thomas, who was limited to seven games last season while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, scored 25 points. Reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones added 15, but the Sun shot 42.2 percent, missed 13 of 17 attempts from 3-point range and committed 15 turnovers.
“I thought we competed hard,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “I thought at times we got outhustled. We tried to play with more tempo.”
–Field Level Media