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Nneka Ogwumike and Sparks battle but lose late to Connecticut Sun

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LOS ANGELES — Nneka Ogwumike had a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds and 5 assists but the Sparks could not overcome a 9-0 run by the Connecticut sun in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, losing 83-74 at Crypto.com Arena Sunday.

Sparks point guard Jordin Canada had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, and forward Azurá Stevens added 12 points.

The Sparks are now 5-6 overall. Connecticut improved to 9-3.

Sparks reserve forward Karlie Samuelson, who finished with 11 points, tied the game at 74 with 3:01 to go. Two free throws by Sun guard DiJonai Carrington and a layup by Sun forward Brionna Jones put Connecticut up 78-74 with 1:54 to go.

Sparks head coach Curt Miller received a technical foul with Sparks trailing 78-74 with 1:27 to go. Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner, who scored a team-high 20 points, made the free throw and followed that up with a driving layup and the Sparks trailed 81-74 with 1:14 to go.

Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas finished with a double-double with 16 points and 12 assists. Brionna Jones added 17 points and eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, Sparks forward Dearica Hamby scored six of her team’s first eight points. Hamby finished with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. The Sparks led 19-15 heading into the second quarter.

The Sun battled back and took a 27-23 lead with 6:01 left in the second quarter on a layup by Thomas.

However, the Sparks responded as Stevens gave her team a 35-34 lead with 2:30 to go before halftime when the 6-foot-6 forward stole the ball on the perimeter and streaked down the court for a fast-break layup.

The Sparks, who shot 56.2% in the first half, finished the second quarter on a 13-5 run and led 44-39 at halftime.

The game was tied at 63 heading into the fourth quarter.

“It’s the little things that mean the biggest things in this game,” Miller said. “Again, not trying to zoom out and be so worried about what the end result tonight is. It’s short battles. It’s four to five-minute battles with the highs and lows and the runs that come in this league. Just continuing to stay in those battles and not getting ahead of ourselves is the big picture.”

Curt Miller told me it’s doing little things against the Connecticut Sun that will be important for the Los Angeles Sparks to be effective against his former Sun team. #WNBA #WNBATwitter pic.twitter.com/aVmBfcGGrZ

— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) June 18, 2023

Meanwhile, newcomer Destanni Henderson (former South Carolina and Indiana Fever point guard) who signed a hardship contract with the Sparks on Friday saw her first action in the second quarter. Henderson finished with three assists and one rebound in six minutes off the bench.

“Just being aggressive on both ends,” Henderson said. “Just making the minutes count every time you get on the floor. I feel like great energy is always needed, especially in close times when the game is really close, I feel like everybody needs that type of energy and we need to stick together as a team.”

Rae Burrell and Destanni Henderson explain what they want to bring to the Los Angeles Sparks while playing on hardship contracts. #WNBA #WNBATwitter pic.twitter.com/xA24yf1sGL

— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) June 18, 2023

The Sparks will host the Minnesota Lynx Tuesday at Crypto.com Arena, which will be their third time playing in a ten-day span.

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