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Sparks’ balanced offense sinks Dream

Sep 7, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; The WNBA logo on a ball during the fourth quarter of game one of the WNBA finals between the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics at KeyArena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Nneka Ogwumike’s game-high 20 points led four players in double figures Thursday as the Los Angeles Sparks led nearly wire-to-wire in an 85-78 win over the visiting Atlanta Dream.

Chiney Ogwumike added 15 and seven rebounds for the Sparks (12-14), which finished a seven-game homestand at 4-3. Katie Lou Samuelson and Brittney Sykes each scored 12 points for Los Angeles, which connected on 53.1 percent of its field goal attempts, including a 6 of 11 performance on 3-pointers.

Tiffany Hayes and reserve Aari McDonald each scored 18 points for Atlanta (12-15), combining to hit 14 of 21 shots. The rest of their teammates teamed up to hit only 16 of 45, including a 2 of 14 outing from rookie Rhyne Howard.

Howard and Cheyenne Parker added 10 points apiece for the Dream, which earned a 36-25 advantage on the boards and hit 9 of 23 3-pointers. But they also hurt themselves with sloppy ball-handling, committing 21 turnovers, including 14 from the starting frontcourt of Howard, Parker and Naz Hillmon.

The Sparks also got center Liz Cambage back after she missed the last two games while in the WNBA’s health and safety protocols. She played 15 minutes off the bench, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds.

Los Angeles established a working margin in the first quarter with a 9-1 burst that lasted about two minutes. Sykes finished it with a layup at the 2:41 mark for a 17-9 lead and the Sparks extended it to 26-16 after 10 minutes.

The second period was essentially defense-optional for both teams. Nneka Ogwumike drained a 3-pointer with 3:57 left to give Los Angeles a game-high 11-point lead at 42-31 and Chennedy Carter drove for a layup just before the horn, enabling the Sparks to take a 52-42 margin to halftime.

Jordin Canada’s layup with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter pushed Los Angeles’ margin to 62-50, but Atlanta rattled off eight straight points before Lexie Brown’s driving layup restored a 64-58 edge going into the fourth period.

–Field Level Media