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Sparks, Storm conclude their 2023 campaigns

Aug 5, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) dribbles against the Phoenix Mercury during the second half at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With both teams out of the playoff picture, Sunday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Sparks and host Seattle Storm concludes their 2023 seasons.

Los Angeles (16-23) was eliminated from postseason contention on Friday when Chicago defeated Minnesota 92-87 for the eighth and final playoff berth.

The door for the Sky’s playoff-clinching victory opened when the Sparks lost at the New York Liberty 96-89 on Thursday after being outscored 27-15 in the fourth quarter.

Guard Layshia Clarendon scored a career-high 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the floor.

“Layshia’s meant the world to us,” Sparks coach Curt Miller said after the game Thursday. “Her determination is so impressive, (having been) out of the league last year.”

Clarendon missed the 2022 season after being waived by Minnesota. She is averaging 11 points and 3.3 assists in her 23 games (12 starts) for the Sparks this season.

Sunday’s contest concludes a three-game road swing to close out Los Angeles’ campaign. The Sparks dropped the first game on the trip at Connecticut 90-76 on Tuesday.

Seattle (11-28) limps into its season finale on a three-game skid after Friday’s 106-91 loss to Dallas. Jewell Loyd scored 33 points, extending her WNBA-leading scoring output to 24.6 points per game and setting a new league record with 911 regular-season points.

New York’s Breanna Stewart set the previous record earlier in the week. Both players are in action on Sunday, with Stewart just one point behind Loyd’s mark.

“She’s focused on trying to be the best version of herself and to show up for her teammates,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said of Loyd per the Seattle Times. “But for me, I think (the scoring record) would be a great way to honor that work.”

Loyd has scored 31-plus points in three of the last eight games and is averaging 27.5 points a contest over that stretch.

Included in that run was a 25-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist effort in a 72-61 Seattle win at Los Angeles on Aug. 31 for the Storm’s last victory before their current skid.

–Field Level Media

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