The Los Angeles Sparks can’t be stopped. Not even a 16-point first-half deficit was sufficient to decelerate the most popular group within the WNBA, who got here storming again after the break on Friday night time to stun the Atlanta Dream, 83-78, and lengthen their profitable streak to 6 video games.
Just some weeks in the past, the Sparks had been a number of video games behind the Chicago Sky within the race for the No. 8 seed. Now, they’ve put the Sky within the rearview mirror and cruised all the way in which as much as seventh place. Whereas a tough remaining schedule could make it troublesome to maneuver up any additional within the standings, the Sparks are on tempo to get again to the playoffs for the primary time since 2020 and keep away from the longest postseason drought in franchise historical past.
This has been a attempting season for the Sparks, who’ve been shorthanded your complete approach and misplaced extra video games to harm and sickness than another group within the league. By all of it, they’ve relied on their former MVP, Nneka Ogwumike, as a stabilizing pressure, and it was no shock that she performed a serious position of their comeback on Friday.
The veteran ahead dominated within the paint en path to a 29-point, 12-rebound outing that was one in all her better of the season. She did most of that work within the second half to steer the comeback, and practically matched your complete Dream group’s output. Ogwumike completed the third and fourth quarters with 19 factors and 9 rebounds on 8-of-9 from the sphere; the Dream had 26 factors and 13 rebounds on 9-of-29 taking pictures.
Within the course of, Ogwumike recorded the a hundredth double-double of her profession. She is one in all simply 5 gamers in WNBA historical past to attain that feat, becoming a member of Sylvia Fowles (193), Tina Charles (173), and former Sparks legends Lisa Leslie (157) and Candace Parker (154). This was additionally Ogwumike’s fiftieth 20-point, 10-rebound efficiency, making her the sixth participant to achieve that milestone.
For the season, Ogwumike, who has solely missed one recreation, is averaging 19.6 factors, 9 rebounds and a couple of.8 assists on 51.6% taking pictures from the sphere — numbers practically an identical to her MVP season in 2016. She’s sixth within the league in scoring, sixth in rebounding and eighth in discipline purpose share; the one different participant within the top-10 in all three classes is reigning MVP A’ja Wilson.
With Ogwumike taking part in on the high of her recreation, and her supporting forged lastly considerably wholesome, the Sparks are beginning to seem like they group they hoped they could possibly be coming into the season. That is not going to be ok to contend, however it could possibly be ok to make life very troublesome for somebody within the first spherical.