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Sparks face Liberty to open long home stretch

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the game ball during the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In a matchup between a pair of teams looking up at the .500 mark, the Los Angeles Sparks and the visiting New York Liberty each have plenty of work to do with six weeks remaining in the WNBA’s regular season.

For the Sparks (8-11), team morale is high after a 97-89 road victory over the Dallas Wings on Friday. Los Angeles has won two of its last three games, with both victories coming on the road.

Sparks forwards Nneka Ogwumike and Liz Cambage each scored 21 points against the Wings to help seal the franchise’s 500th victory. Los Angeles became the first WNBA team to reach the accomplishment. The Sparks now will start a run of seven consecutive home games.

“… We’re here until the 21st and that feels like a godsend to be able to sleep consecutive nights in our own beds and not have that recovery factor of everything being shrunk,” Ogwumike said. “We’ve finally played enough (at Los Angeles) that it feels like home, you know the rims, you know the flow, you feel comfortable. I think (July) is going to help us.”

Next up is a meeting with the Liberty (8-11), who are coming off an overtime defeat to the Atlanta Dream on Thursday to end a run of three victories in four games.

After trailing by 13 going into the fourth quarter, the Liberty outscored Atlanta 31-18 to send the game to an extra period. The momentum did not last as the Dream outscored the Liberty 13-2 in overtime.

New York guard Sabrina Ionescu scored 17 points, but it came while going 6 of 19 from the field and 1 of 10 from 3-point range. She also had 13 rebounds and seven assists.

Liberty forward Stefanie Dolson scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while adding seven rebounds. She led the fourth-quarter comeback with 14 points in the period.

“Getting stops, but also just moving the ball,” Dolson said about the keys to the rally. “We moved the ball really well. I think that’s the key with a team like this that I don’t think we did a great job of the first few quarters of moving the ball quickly and getting them in a disadvantage.

“I think we put them on their heels on defense and obviously we were able to make shots and make plays.”

After a slow start to the season, New York went 7-4 in June.