Sparks aim for WNBA history with 500th franchise win – Daily News

The Sparks are going to Texas with one thing on their minds – getting the franchise’s 500th win.

The Sparks would be the first team to do it in WNBA history, but winning on the road against the Dallas Wings has not been easy as of late. The last time the Sparks beat Dallas on the road was Sept. 2, 2020.

“That’s huge. I’m from the east side of L.A. This is L.A. so we want to bring that back and if we can get that, that’s something to cherish and it goes down in the history books,” said Los Angeles Sparks interim coach Fred Williams, who likens himself to being an orchestra conductor on the sidelines.

The Sparks are 7-11 and on the outside looking in on the WNBA playoffs, sitting 10th out of 12 teams. The Wings are 9-11 in sixth place, entrenched in the playoff conversation among the top eight teams that will make the playoffs.

However, Sparks guard Brittney Sykes, a WNBA All-Defensive first-team selection in 2021, believes her team is on the right track to begin racking up victories.

“I think it’s finally starting to come together where we can put four quarters of basketball together,” Sykes said. “We’re getting better all-around on offense and defense, just keeping that consistency.”

“The keys are to show up and play some defense,” Williams said, who expects to have Sparks guard Jordin Canada back in the lineup after she missed the past two games with a non-COVID related illness.

Sykes added that keeping proper spacing offensively, limiting turnovers and rebounding will be necessary to win on the road. The 5-foot-9 guard, who is in her sixth year in the league out of Syracuse, said it will also be important that the Sparks don’t hesitate to take open shots.

“When we shot our open shots and we didn’t think about them, we were able to get in the paint a lot. We scored a lot of points in the paint and we rebounded,” Sykes explained.

The Sparks are 1-1 this season against the Wings. They won the season opener between the teams 93-91 on May 31 at Crypto.com Arena. However, Dallas evened the season series with a 92-82 win June 19 in Arlington, Texas.

“We really want to get a win on their court,” Sykes said. “We’ve really been yearning to do that. It’s hard to get wins on the road, let alone in Dallas so we’re just looking to come out and look at our mistakes and capitalize on them and do the things that helped us win that first game at home.”

Williams said from a coaching perspective, he wants his team to be more aggressive on defense and hopes the team is totally comfortable with his system after the All-Star Weekend on July 10.

Meanwhile, Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike said she’s looking forward to the Sparks’ seven-game homestand between July 3 and July 21 after playing 11 of the team’s first 18 games on the road.

“Once we come back on July 2nd, which is Nneka’s birthday, we’re here until the 21st and that feels like a godsend to be able to sleep consecutive nights in our own beds and not have that recovery factor of everything being shrunk,” Ogwumike said. “We’ve finally played enough at Crypto.com Arena that it feels like home, you know the rims, you know the flow, you feel comfortable. I think finally that month is going to help us.”

 

All-Star Snub?

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike will be the team’s only All-Star in Chicago next weekend, after Sykes was not selected as an All-Star reserve Tuesday.

Sykes, who leads the league with 2.1 steals per game, is averaging 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and a career-high 3.9 assists, was in consideration for her first All-Star game appearance.

“It is what it is,” Sykes said. “It’s one of those things where I’ve always pushed for it and that’s always a voting thing (by the coaches). The people are All-Stars, kudos to them. I’m still yearning to be that person. We still have a lot of games left. Not making it this year does not make me an All-Star, it’s just I’m not one yet.”

Skyes, who scored 10 points in the Sparks’ 79-73 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Monday, is making a concerted effort to be aggressive offensively, which she believes can stoke the flame of her defensive tenacity.

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