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Sparks lose to Connecticut, fall out of playoff position

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Sparks’ game of leapfrog with the Chicago Sky continued Tuesday as the teams again swapped places in the race for the final spot in the WNBA playoffs.

Alyssa Thomas had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists for her sixth triple-double of the season and also set the WNBA’s single-season record for assists as the Connecticut Sun beat the Sparks, 90-76, on Tuesday night.

The loss dropped the Sparks (16-22) into a tie with Chicago for eighth place in the WNBA standings, but the Sky holds the tiebreaker for the No. 8 seed because it won three of their four head-to-head meetings – with two games remaining in the regular season.

The Sparks continue their three-game road trip on Thursday at second-place New York (31-7), followed by a cross-country trip to Seattle for Sunday’s season finale against the 11th-place Storm (11-26). Chicago hosts fifth-place Minnesota (19-19) on Friday night before its Sunday finale at third-place Connecticut (26-12).

Washington (18-20) and Atlanta (17-20) occupy sixth and seventh place.

Azura Stevens had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Dearica Hamby had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Sparks, who played without All-Star Nneka Ogwumike (knee) for the second consecutive game. Layshia Clarendon and Rae Burrell added 13 points apiece. Jordin Canada had 10 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

The Sparks shot 41.7% from the field compared to 50.7% for the Sun and were outscored 46-28 in the paint and 17-7 in fast-break points while being outrebounded 32-25.

Thomas passed Courtney Vandersloot’s assists record of 300, which was set during a 34-game season in 2019. The Sun’s point forward, who was 11 for 13 from the field and also had six steals, has 304 assists through 38 games this season.

DeWanna Bonner added 25 points and Tiffany Hayes scored 13 for Connecticut, which is locked into the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.

Connecticut led 49-36 at halftime after shooting 54% from the field, including 6 for 12 from 3-point range. Bonner scored 15 points in the first half and Thomas had 10 points, six rebounds and 10 assists. Four of the Sparks’ 12 field goals were from 3-point range.

The Sparks got within 72-66 early in the fourth quarter, but Thomas answered with a layup and she found Hayes for a 3-pointer on their next possession to regain a double-digit lead.

In Indianapolis, Kahleah Copper scored 25 points, Marina Mabrey and Courtney Williams each added 17 points and Chicago beat the Indiana Fever, 96-69.

Chicago has won four of its last six games – with the losses coming against first-place Las Vegas and second-place New York.

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