A career night from Zahui B helps propel New York to road win over Los Angeles, 98-92
LOS ANGELES – Just one day removed from a 35-point loss to the Las Vegas Aces, the New York Liberty entered the Staples Center on Saturday night and gutted out an impressive 98-92 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in front of 11,388 fans.
It took a career night from Liberty center Amanda Zahui B, who was a force from all over the floor. After making just five three-pointers in the Liberty’s first seven games, Zahui B caught fire for seven triples on just eight attempts. She finished the night with a career-high 37 points on 13-for-16 shooting from the field, along with seven rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
“A lot of balls just bounced, and bounced, and then they fell in,” Zahui B said after the game. “Obviously it’s fun, but the greatest part about this game is that we won, and won on the road after a tough game last night. So, I definitely feel like we as a group redeemed ourselves, and it feels great.”
The Sparks seemed happy to let Zahui B, a career 29.9 percent shooter from distance, fire away. Los Angeles instead focused their defensive effort on six-time All-Star Tina Charles. The Sparks held the power forward to nine points and 13 rebounds on just 4-for-17 shooting.
“Amanda shot the ball well tonight,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher said in his post-game press conference. “That’s not something that normally happens. Coming into tonight she was five out of 21 from the three-point line on the season. So, if you play the percentages and it goes that well for her, we shouldn’t throw out our entire defensive philosophy because somebody that normally doesn’t shoot 7-for-8 shoots 7-for-8.”
It wasn’t just Zahui B who did the damage for New York. Point guard Brittany Boyd controlled the offense to the tune of 12 assists, while shooting guard Kia Nurse was aggressive with dribble penetration and finished with 26 points, keyed by a 15-for-16 night from the free throw line.
On the whole, the Liberty attempted 26 free throws to just seven from the Sparks. Los Angeles committed 10 more fouls than New York, which proved to be the difference in a game that came down to the final minute.
“Let’s just say, in that department the ball hasn’t bounced our way,” said forward-center Chiney Ogwumike, who finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds. “And I don’t want that to be the standard of which the season’s gonna go. Because if it is, people need to go back to the drawing boards and tutorials. I’m not happy with how it’s been the last few games, but we can’t use it as an excuse.”
Ogwumike’s sister and teammate Nneka Ogwumike also had a strong night with 20 points and nine rebounds. Yet it wasn’t enough to take down a Liberty team that already looks much better than last year’s seven-win squad.
“I thought they battled, and came out on both ends, and really gave the effort from start to finish,” Liberty coach Katie Smith said. “And we were able to sneak out of there.” The win was the first for Smith as a head coach against Los Angeles.
The Liberty (3-5) next play on Wednesday when they host the Chicago Sky. The Sparks (4-3) are at home on Tuesday against the Washington Mystics.
Chiney Ogwumike’s impassioned response to my question about the FT discrepancy (26-7). pic.twitter.com/ALpnul4ZSj
— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) June 16, 2019
- Zahui B tied the franchise record for three’s made in a game (7).
- Tanisha Wright recorded her 400th career steal in the game.
- Brittany Boyd’s 12 assists is a new career-high, beating out her old record by one.
- New York won its third in four games after winning just seven during the entire 2018 season.
- The Sparks played without Candace Parker and Alana Beard for the sixth consecutive game
- The Sparks shot 46.7% from the field and 34.8% from the three-point line.
- Los Angeles outrebounded New York 42-35.