Credit: Kamil Krzachinski-USA Today Sports
The Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty begin a crucial back-to-back when they square off in New York on Tuesday night.
The two clubs will play in New York on Wednesday and are at the bottom of the playoff table between four teams a game apart.
Los Angeles (12-17) is currently in eighth place – the last postseason spot – and New York (11-18) is one game behind the Sparks. The Atlanta Dream (12-18) and Minnesota Lynx (12-19) are part of the equation.
The Liberty have won two of their last three games and will hope to make a late-season dash behind Sabrina Ionescu, who posted a game-high 16 assists in Sunday’s easy 89-69 win over the Phoenix Mercury.
At the end of the 2020 regular season, Chicago Sky star Courtney Vandersloot had the last 18 assists in WNBA single-game history against the Indiana Fever. Ionescu had 10 points and eight rebounds in New York’s biggest 20-point performance of the season.
“She’s a really good basketball player,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said of Ionescu. “I just want you to take what gives us protection. She is a wonderful passenger. Good for such a young player, just her court vision.
Ionescu leads New York in scoring (16.9 points per game) and assists (6.5). Natasha Howard averaged 15.4 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds a game. Ionescu grabs 7.1 boards per game.
The 6-foot-2 Howard has posted four straight double-doubles, including 23 points and a season-high 12 rebounds against Phoenix.
Los Angeles has dropped three games and six of its last eight after losing to the Lynx 84-77 on Sunday. The Sparks trailed by 20 in the fourth quarter before clawing back the margin.
Neka Ogugumike, who is averaging a team-best 18.6 points and 6.9 rebounds, had 23 points in his home performance against Minnesota before the start of a four-game road trip.
Brittany Sykes sparked the comeback by scoring 13 of her 15 points in the final score.
“We’re all connected by the power at this point,” Sykes continued, “so I can’t be a vampire and I’m going to own that.” “It took me to the fourth quarter to follow through. I can’t do it anymore.
Los Angeles beat New York 84-74 on July 3 behind Ogumike’s 22 points. Ionecsu had 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but made just 5 of 18 shots and committed six turnovers.
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