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LA hopes coaching change provides spark vs. Aces

Oct 2, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; The shoes of Seattle Storm guard Jordin Canada (21) with the WNBA logo during game 1 of the WNBA finals against the Las Vegas Aces at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Sparks are hoping their coaching change will provide the players with the spark they need Saturday night when they host the WNBA-best Las Vegas Aces.

The Sparks fired coach/general manager Derek Fisher on Tuesday with the team sporting a 5-7 record. Assistant Fred Williams was promoted to interim coach for the remainder of the season.

Fisher went 54-46 in three-plus seasons with the Sparks but was just 17-27 since the start of the 2021 campaign.

Williams, 65, will be running a WNBA team for the fourth time. He has a 131-153 record in 10 seasons on his three previous stops with Utah, Atlanta, and Tulsa/Dallas.

One of his tasks will be to get more out of four-time All-Star Liz Cambage, who played just 13 minutes in Fisher’s last game, an 81-74 loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.

Cambage played for Williams on the Dallas Wings in 2018 and established career highs of 23 points and 9.7 rebounds.

“Liz would be the first to tell you that I’m going to get on her if she’s doing something that she’s not supposed to be doing,” Williams told reporters. “We have a good relationship. We talk things over that are away from basketball too, but on the court it’s all business.”

Cambage is averaging 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. Los Angeles is led in both categories by Nneka Ogwumike (18.1 points, 7.5 rebounds).

Las Vegas (10-2) also has been off since Sunday when it produced an 84-78 home win over the Dallas Wings.

Kelsey Plum continued her stellar play by matching her career best of 32 points. She was named WNBA Player of the Week after averaging 24.3 points and 6.7 assists and making 12 of 28 3-point attempts in three games.

Plum ranks second in the WNBA with a 19.8 scoring average, leads the league with 40 treys and ranks fourth in assists (6.0).

“When she gets downhill, she’s a handful,” Aces coach Becky Hammon told reporters. “What has added to her game is her ability and willingness to pass.”

Jackie Young, third in the WNBA at 19.2 points per game, is expected back after missing the Dallas game with an ankle injury.

Las Vegas routed visiting Los Angeles 104-76 on May 23 when A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 24 points.

–Field Level Media