The Sparks started off the period with the mantra “time to present.” Centre Liz Cambage, coming off an unceremonious break up with the Australian national team right before the Tokyo Olympics and going to her fourth WNBA crew, was credited with pitching the slogan to the marketing team and her teammates. With the controversial star long gone, the Sparks have speedily adopted a new rallying cry.
“Just stick together,” Nneka Ogwumike said Thursday just after the Sparks misplaced 90-80 to the Phoenix Mercury in their 1st sport considering that Cambage’s abrupt departure. “It was a different obstacle for us to figure out how we can stick with each other, and that is genuinely what it’s all about. That is sort of been our motto this entire year.”
Striving to prevail over the ups and downs of a tumultuous time, the Sparks are now seeking to just hold pace in a restricted postseason race. They hit another speed bump with Thursday’s decline as they slipped to seventh behind Phoenix (13-16), which jumped from eighth to sixth. The Sparks (12-16) are tied with Dallas for the final two playoff positions, with Atlanta (12-17) only a half-video game out.
If lacking the playoffs for the 1st time in extra than a decade and then firing their mentor in the middle of the year did not sign how drastically the Sparks experienced fallen, then Cambage’s “contract divorce” announced Tuesday definitely will. Outside of the recent playoff push, the franchise faces a significant overhaul this offseason. Derek Fisher’s successor will have to cleanse up the previous head coach and basic manager’s mess that has turned the once-very pleased franchise into at greatest an afterthought and at worst a laughingstock.
The team’s own Twitter account tried using to make gentle of the predicament Thursday, tweeting a graphic of the 54-32 halftime rating and an emoji of a anxious smile.
Even though Cambage was averaging just 13 points — her most affordable scoring clip considering that her rookie year — the Sparks experienced created their offense on scoring in the paint with Ogwumike and Cambage. Dealing with the brunt of the Mercury’s defense, Ogwumike labored for 15 factors, 11 rebounds and five helps on six-of-14 shooting.
Interim head mentor Fred Williams hoped the group could transition additional to a perimeter-oriented offensive recreation this week, but that technique took a big strike with a few-stage sharpshooter Lexie Brown injuring her ankle right after enjoying just two minutes. She did not return, and the Sparks went three-for-21 from a few-place range, like an -for-12 begin.
The Sparks are the next-worst a few-place capturing group in the WNBA, at 33.6%, and acquire the fewest 3-ideas for every activity, at 16.6.
When asked whether the initially sport with no Cambage disclosed any important improvements required for the ultimate eight typical-period game titles, Williams made a lighthearted remark.
“Yeah, just placing the ball in the basket, which is the drastic modify,” Williams stated. “Win or get rid of, it is a make a difference of putting the ball in the basket.”
Chennedy Carter carried the offense off the bench with a season-high 23 details on eight-of-10 taking pictures. The third-yr guard was coming off a 15-position overall performance versus Las Vegas past weekend, her initial sport just after a knee injuries retained her sidelined for three weeks.
Carter was 1 of the Sparks’ intriguing offseason acquisitions soon after the previous Atlanta guard missed most of past time since of a suspension for unspecified carry out harmful to the crew. Chemistry issues ended up a concern, especially with the combustible Cambage.
But Carter is participating in with something to confirm.
“Playing for the WNBA, it implies a good deal, and really taking part in for Los Angeles,” the 23-year-aged claimed. “So to be out there each second, it’s a major prospect and I never want to waste it.”
Amid the remarkable year, Carter credited veteran teammates like Ogwumike for encouraging her continue to be focused on the court docket and embrace her part of superior-energy bench player.
“I want y’all to know that we’re likely by a large amount,” Carter mentioned, “but we got a large amount of good vets, a whole lot of good leaders who are maintaining our circle restricted.”