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Sparks could be without Nneka Ogwumike when facing Sun

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 are in the must-win portion of their schedule as they await word on whether eight-time All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike will be available for Tuesday’s game against the Connecticut Sun at Uncasville, Conn.

The eighth-place Sparks (16-21) are one game ahead of the Chicago Sky in the battle for the WNBA’s last playoff spot. Both teams have three games remaining. Los Angeles is beginning a three-game road trip at Connecticut.

Ogwumike, 33, was scratched from Sunday’s 72-64 home win over the Washington Mystics due to knee pain. The 2016 WNBA MVP leads Los Angeles in scoring (19.1 points per game) and rebounding (8.9).

“She’s played through some discomfort recently,” Sparks coach Curt Miller said of Ogwumike after Sunday’s game. “We felt it was prudent that she needed some more rest tonight. We’ll see how she does over the next couple of days and how she is on this road trip.”

Over the previous three games, all Los Angeles losses, Ogwumike averaged just 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds and made only 42.5 percent (17 of 40) of her field-goal attempts. Her season mark is 50.9 percent.

One of the setbacks came 83-68 against the host Sun on Aug. 27. Alyssa Thomas led Connecticut (25-12) with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Connecticut is 2-0 against the Sparks this season.

Thomas is averaging 15.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists and her 291 total assists are just nine behind the WNBA single-season mark of 300 set by Courtney Vandersloot. Interestingly, Vandersloot of the New York Liberty has 290 this season with three games left.

The Sun are in third place but are just 4-5 over their past nine contests.

Connecticut was routed 89-58 by the host New York Liberty on Friday. The Sun went 0-4 against the second-place Liberty in the regular season.

“I keep saying it, but it’s just really hard,” Connecticut coach Stephanie White said. “We’ve got to get back to changing it up a little bit more so that we can conserve some more energy throughout the game and still dictate the way that we want to.

“So in terms of just overall game management, I think we still have to try to do a better job from the sidelines, too.”

–Field Level Media

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