Ogwumike, Sparks await skidding Fever (Jul 16, 2017)

BY AP • July 16, 2017

Los Angeles Sparks coach Brian Agler is beginning to see something familiar in Nneka Ogwumike.

"I think the last couple of games, you're starting to see the games she had a year ago when she was MVP," Agler told the website Swish Appeal ahead of the Sparks' game against the Indiana Fever on Monday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. "Where she was just so persistent around the basket, she was so tough to defend, she was on the boards, and she can hit threes now. She can step out, stretch the defense and hit 3-point shots."

Ogwumike had 29 points for the Sparks in an 87-77 home win over the Connecticut Sun on Friday. Connecticut had won five in a row before Los Angeles (13-5) overcame a 14-point, first-half deficit.

"They were hitting shots early and they put us on our heels a little bit," Agler said. "We dug down a little bit better defensively, got some stops, started playing in transition and were able to take a one-point lead. I was really proud of how we showed a lot of persistence and resiliency."

Candace Parker, who the previous night won an ESPY award for Best WNBA Player, had a bounce-back performance with 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Parker had been held to two and 10 points in her previous two games.

"When (Parker is) really engaged, she's a facilitator as much as she is a scorer and a rebounder," Agler told the website. "The way I look at things is that the real elite players play elite, but they also make their teammates better. That's what Candace does. She can get shots for other people -- just like that big three that Riquna (Williams) hit. So, she sees the floor so well and of course the combination of her and Nneka. They bring the best out of each other."

The Fever (7-11) will arrive at Staples Center on a four-game losing streak. Indiana, which lost to the Sparks 84-73 at home on June 24, are 10th overall in the league standings.

In its most recent loss, 72-58 to the Washington Mystics on Friday, Indiana shot just 27.3 percent from the field.

"It's easy to look at the stat sheet and talk about the shots you didn't make, but the next layer is to think about the shots you did not take because you turned it over 18 times and they scored 24 points off of them," Fever coach Pokey Chatman told the Indianapolis Star. "This is not coach-speak, this is just peeling back the layers, and facts only. You can be a fan and look at percentages, or you can be an elite-level player and look at areas of the game that you can affect and take away."

The Fever's western swing will take the team to Phoenix on Wednesday, San Antonio on Thursday and Dallas on July 25.

Los Angeles, in the middle of a four-game homestand, hosts Chicago on Thursday afternoon.

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