LOS ANGELES — Make it six. The Sparks haven’t tasted victory in 17 days, and now they’ll have to wait another month to break the WNBA’s longest current losing streak of six games.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Lynx stayed hot, continuing the league’s longest winning streak to seven with a 86-61 victory Sunday.
By the end of it, the crowd of 892 at Los Angeles Convention Center grew eerily silent in the last game before they return to Staples Center.
From the tip the Lynx carried the momentum taking a 16-point lead in the first quarter shooting 80% from the field while the Sparks shot 27.8%. Minnesota cooled off slightly, finishing the game shooting 55.9%.
“The one thing you can’t question is our effort, we’re down bodies and we’re still trying to get it done,” Sparks guard Erica Wheeler said.
Napheesa Collier scored a game-high 27 for the Lynx. The third-year forward will play in her first Olympics as the WNBA breaks for the summer games.
Sparks backcourt Wheeler (14 points, 6 assists) and Brittney Sykes (14) led the team in scoring.
Los Angeles started the third-quarter on a 6-0 run cutting the lead to once 18 point lead down to six, but the Lynx responded to the Sparks attempts to get back into the game later taking their largest lead (28) in the fourth quarter.
The Sparks have had a myriad of comebacks, but have only come out the victor once – May 28 when Nneka Ogwumike was still on the floor playing with the team.
“In a way we’ve won a lot of these games for ourselves,” Sykes said. “We just we just gotta keep going, you gotta keep fighting.”
The Sparks fell in a similar fashion to the Lynx last month 80-64 after overcoming a 17 point deficit.
Sunday’s game mirrored the first matchup’s chippiness. Technical fouls were called on both the Sparks (Wheeler, Bria Holmes) and Lynx (coach Cheryl Reeve) along with one flagrant foul on Minnesota. The home crowd lamented over missed and hard fouls.
The Lynx scored 20 points off 15 Los Angeles turnovers, typically a strongsuit of the Sparks. Minnesota also asserted their dominance outscoring the Sparks 44-30 in the paint.
Sparks coach Derek Fisher said there’s a level of physicality when playing the Lynx, but ultimately Minnesota got what they wanted as they continue to climb the WNBA standing ranks.
After the final buzzer rank, crew members in the convention center’s west hall began to disassemble the purple and gold court created solely for the early part of the season.
For the last time before the break, the Sparks played without three starters. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike (knee) along with Kristi Toliver (eye) sat on the Sparks bench cheering on their teammates.
“It’s not that we assume that we’re just going to magically be better because people are back, but I think we’re excited about the opportunity,” Fisher said.
The Sparks will return August 15 perhaps the most healthy they’ve been all season.
“We’re right there,” Sykes said. “We have our foundation, and now it’s time to build on that foundation and keep going.”
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