Dabovic makes winning shot as Sparks break the Fever, 81-79, win third straight
The Los Angeles Sparks (11-17) knocked off the Indiana Fever, 81-79, Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, for three straight victories. The win also broke the Fever’s six-game win streak and solidified the Sparks’ fourth place position in the West as they stay in contention for the playoffs.
However, it took three quarters for Los Angeles to gain an advantage over Indiana (17-10), the second-place team in the East.
“I just think we kept our composure, just kept playing and whittled our way back into the game,” said Sparks head coach Brian Agler. “As the game went on, we sort of got in a comfort area and had the ability to execute our offense.”
The Fever outscored the Sparks 25-21 in the 1st quarter and teams broke even at 18 points each in the second. At halftime, the Fever had a 43-39 lead.
While the Sparks scored first out of the break, the Fever increased their lead to five at 6:30 after a three-point jumper from Shenise Johnson. However, the Sparks made up ground during the remainder of the quarter, even as they missed center Marianna Tolo. She sat out the last half of the game due to a sprained knee suffered before the break.
Los Angeles earned their first lead of the game after a trey from rookie Crystal Bradford at 2:04 in the third quarter. About a minute later, Bradford drained another three-pointer to give the Sparks a five-point lead, 62-57. With less than a minute to go in the quarter, the Fever fought back to close the deficit to one, 62-61 to enter the fourth.
Veteran Fever forward Tamika Catchings made a layup early in the fourth to give the Fever the lead back for a brief moment before the Sparks regained the edge when Candace Parker made a layup. The two teams were tied three times in the remainder of the quarter but the Fever never regained the lead.
Fever guard Briann January nailed a three-pointer with 28.9 seconds left in the game for the last tie but Sparks guard Ana Dabovic countered shortly afterwards with a foul line jumper that sealed the deal with 6.1 seconds to go.
The Fever had a chance to tie the game with 1.9 seconds left when Shavonte Zellous went to the free throw line for two shots but she missed both attempts.
Dabovic led Los Angeles with 18 points while Jantel Lavender contributed 17 points and six rebounds. Kristi Toliver scored 16 points and Candace Parker had a near triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Johnson had 16 points for Indiana. Lynetta Kizer socred 12 and Catchings earned her 95th career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sparks continue their road trip to Tulsa and face the Shock on Friday. The Indiana Fever host the Atlanta Dream on the same day.
- Candace Parker has now recorded double-doubles in six straight games and nine of her 12 appearances this season.
- The Sparks have now won four consecutive road games at Indiana. The Fever have not defeated Los Angeles at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since July 31, 2011.
- Indiana’s loss ends an eight-game home winning streak and a six-game winning streak overall. Both marked the third-longest streaks in franchise history.
- Tamika Catchings became the first player in WNBA history to record 1,000 career steals as she swiped her third of the game at the 9:05 mark in the third quarter.She tied a season high with five thefts on the night.
- Shenise Johnson passed 1,000 career points with her second basket of the game with 4:12 left to play in the second quarter.
Fever head coach Stephanie White
“It’s a humbling league. It really is. They out-executed us. I thought we played hard. We didn’t play smart. We played with energy but not necessarily focused energy. They made plays that they needed to make in order to put them in position to win the ball game. We got ourselves back in the game at the end with a couple of critical plays. But you know it doesn’t come down to the last plays of the ball game. It’s all those little things, all those details that we have been doing in order to put ourselves in positions to be successful and to win. And they just did more of then tonight. They’re a heck of a good team. They’re a heck of a good team and they were better than us tonight.”
Fever’s Lynetta Kizer
(On the Sparks’ big front-line)
“Their girls are big, so they had to do better job of boxing out. They got a lot of extra possessions. We just have to focus on doing the little things, the little details, especially at this point in the season.”
(On the Fever’s defensive rotations)
“Honestly, we didn’t do a good job of executing our defense tonight. I think of course we could have done a lot better. But they made some tough plays. They played good basketball today so they came out with the win.”
Fever’s Shenise Johnson
(On the difference in the game )
“I thought LA did a great job of out-rebounding us. I thought we made a lot of mental mistakes. We turned the ball over in crucial times. It was kind of unforced. I thought they just out-hustled us, they out-played us, they out-executed us at the end. But we still put ourselves in a position to win at the end of the game. But unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize on it.”
Sparks head coach Brian Agler
(Did you design the last play for Ana Dabovic?)
“We had a pick and roll with Candace (Parker), we had Kristi (Toliver) coming off a sprinting action off the back side, we just wanted to make a play. So Ana, she’s a seasoned player. And she’s not scared to make plays as you saw during the course of the game. It’s not surprising to me that she gets those shots. She’s got a lot of guts.”
Sparks’ Jantel Lavender
(What changed in the second half?)
“I just think we really started to execute. We started to take our time. We stayed poised. Indiana is a very physical team. They like to push you around. They kind of like bruise you up in the game. It wears on you. But I think our team showed poise tonight down the stretch and we really took our time and executed when it was time.”
(Was it a point of emphasis at halftime to limit points in the paint?)
“Definitely. I think it was at halftime it was 26 points in the paint and we knew that. That was something that we really wanted to focus on because that’s how they score. That’s how they’re a good team. We did that. We got stops down the stretch. We played team defense and I think that is what really fueled us offensively.”
Sparks’ Ana Dabovic
(On what you saw on the last play of the game, the winning shot)
“All game I felt we could really do it. It was just one of the games that I felt I can. It just open like that and I took ball and shot. But I know if I give it to Kristi (Toliver), Candace (Parker)… anybody, they would do the same.”
(Did you have more confidence as the game went on?)
“Yes. I mean from the beginning, like I said, even when we were down like maybe even 10 we didn’t go down. We stayed together, we fight and we went down to four in halftime and we trust ourselves and team and Coach that we can do. In the end I felt like last minute or two we’ll win the game.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Sparks 30, Fever 36
Second Chance Points: Sparks 8, Fever 13
Fastbreak Points: Sparks 6, Fever 6
Biggest Lead: Sparks 7, Fever 12
Lead Changes: 3
Times Tied: 3