Champion Sparks set to host Delle Donne, Mystics (May 18, 2017)
The reigning WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks will get their first look at one of the league’s premier players in a new uniform Friday night when the Washington Mystics visit Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles (1-0) opened the season with a 78-68 victory over the Seattle Storm last weekend. Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP, scored 23 points in the win for the Sparks.
Newcomer Odyssey Sims, acquired in a trade with the Dallas Wings, came off the bench to record 20 points and six assists. Chelsea Gray had 14 points and eight assists.
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Washington (1-0) posted an 89-74 victory over the San Antonio Stars in its season opener. Elena Delle Donne scored 24 points in her debut for the Mystics, who acquired the 2015 WNBA MVP in an offseason trade with the Chicago Sky. Tayler Hill scored 15 points and Emma Meesseman had 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Delle Donne was limited to 23 minutes due to foul trouble but seemed to fit in nicely when she was on the floor, making 8 of 12 field-goal attempts.
Kristi Toliver, who left Los Angeles after the Sparks defeated the Minnesota Lynx to win last year’s WNBA championship, was held to eight points on 2-of-6 shooting.
Delle Donne, who requested a trade after four seasons in Chicago, said she was happy with her new surroundings.
“This is exactly what I was hoping for and even more,” Delle Donne told ESPN.com. “I knew coming here this team had chemistry. But when you get here and you feel it and experience it, it’s even better than I imagined. It’s so fun to play with so much talent and so many options.”
The Sparks, who also won WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002, raised their newest championship banner before their game against Seattle. They postponed their ring ceremony until Friday due to the absences of Candace Parker, Jantel Lavender and Essence Carson, who were still playing for their respective teams in Hungary. All three were expected to return to Los Angeles in time for Friday’s game.
“It’s just part of our league,” Sparks coach Brian Agler told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s part of the dynamics of women’s basketball at the pro level. It’s not like that on the men’s side. On the women’s side, they’re playing overseas. They come back and they get integrated at different times.”