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Already in playoff mode, Sparks set to face Storm

Jul 22, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (30) brings the ball up court against the Dallas Wings during the second half at College Park Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Sparks will be out to protect the eighth and final spot in the playoffs and end a two-game losing streak when they welcome the visiting Seattle Storm on Thursday.

Los Angeles (15-20) won six straight before dropping a pair of decisions: 83-68 at Connecticut on Sunday and 76-75 in the first of three straight home games Tuesday vs. Chicago.

The Sparks had three looks at a would-be, game-winning baskets in the final 10 seconds on Tuesday but Jordin Canada, Jasmine Thomas and Karlie Samuelson each missed their attempts.

The defeat marked a significant setback for Los Angeles, which is battling with Chicago for the final playoff spot. The loss trimmed the Sparks’ lead over the Sky to a half-game and gave Chicago the regular-season head-to-head advantage at 3-1.

Los Angeles also has the challenge of a three-game road swing to close the regular season, with Thursday’s visit from Seattle marking the Sparks’ penultimate home date of the campaign.

“The playoffs will play itself out,” Los Angeles coach Curt Miller said. “We can only control what we can control. But as long as we’re playing well, I feel the momentum is building to next year and the future, and what I’m so excited about.”

Seattle (10-25) has been eliminated from postseason contention after dropping its third consecutive game, 90-85 to Chicago on Sunday.

The Storm were outscored 22-10 in a fourth quarter that ended with Seattle running out the clock in the final 15 seconds.

WNBA-leading scorer Jewell Loyd posted 17 first half points for the Storm but went 0 of 7 from the floor in the second half. She finished with 19.

“She’s tremendous at (scoring),” Storm guard Sami Whitcomb of Loyd, according to the Seattle Times. “But in the fourth quarter, when you’ve gone the whole game of doing that, it can be exhausting.”

Loyd is putting up 24.2 points per game, yet the Storm’s 78.7 points per game as a team rank next to last in the league.

Los Angeles is not far ahead at 79.1 points per game, but the Sparks have held opponents to the WNBA’s second-lowest output at 80.3 points a game. Seattle is giving up 83.9 points a game.

–Field Level Media

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