The Los Angeles Sparks storm back from the bottom with 1:13 to go into third and defeat the New York Liberty 86-83 on a Brittney Sykes block at the buzzing Sunday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to move to the playoff position.
The Sparks, who won four games in a row to improve to 10-13, suffered a 14-0 setback and received six points in the fourth quarter from Erica Wheeler, who had 17 in total and five assists. Nneka Ogwumike added 16 points, six assists and three rocks, while Kristi Toliver (three assists) also had 16 points.
A Toliver free throw with five seconds left was 86-83. Toliver missed then a free throw and Sabrina Ionescu desperately tried to make a try at the buzzer, but Sykes (seven points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals) rejected it.
Chiney Ogwumike has returned from a knee injury that has sidelined her since May 28, scoring six points, including four in a row during the 14-0 run, which cut New York’s lead to four.
The Liberty (11-14) defeated five players in double figures. Natasha Howard took the lead with 17 points and 11 boards, while Rebecca Allen was 5-out-6 from deep with 15 points, five assists and two blocks. Allen is 13-of-17 from outside the arc in the past three games together in New York.
Betnijah Laney (two rocks) just missed a double double, scoring 10 points and handing out nine assists. Sabrina Ionescu added 12 points and six assists, while Sami Whitcomb Wheeler and Howard drew 17 points.
The Sparks had some great advantages. They forced 25 conversions while making just 10, winning the quick break 15-0 and scoring points in the paint 38-20. These things denied Liberty’s 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) attempts from downtown.
New York remains in the playoffs, but falls in seventh place tied with LA.
The Sparks were tied with the Dallas Wings for eighth, but they were not tied 0-2.
Seattle Storm (18-7) over Washington Mystics (8-14), 85-78
The Storm spoiled Elena Delle Donne’s return with 20 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and five blocks from Breanna Stewart. Mercedes Russell (14 points, eight rebounds, two steals), Ezi Magbegor (14 points, three blocks) and Katie Lou Samuelson (10 points) also scored double figures for Seattle.
Tina Charles (nine rebounds, three assists, two steals) led Washington by 20 points, while Myisha Hines-Allen dragged in 17 boards to go along with nine points. Natasha Cloud added 11 points and nine assists, while Delle Donne scored 16 points in her return from a back injury that has sidelined her since the Mystics’ victory in Championship Game 5 of the 2019 WNBA Finals.