Sky, Sparks look to get back on winning track

Having a short memory is pretty good advice every now and then.

That should be the mindset of the Los Angeles Sparks and the Chicago Sky, who face off Sunday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Sky lost by 17 points to the Phoenix Mercury on Friday. The Sparks had an extra day to stew about a 25-point loss to the Seattle Storm.

It’s probably better they both move on from those debacles. The Sky certainly have reason to be excited despite dropping to 3-4.

Rookie Gabby Williams scored a career-high 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the 96-79 loss. That’s no easy feat, going up against the likes of Brittany Griner and DeWanna Bonner.

“I was just trying to stay out of the paint with Brittney Griner in there,” Williams said after the game. “Just hit those mid-range jumpers and shots were falling. Attacking at full speed and getting to the rim.”

The Sky could use Williams’ scoring punch. Chicago is mired in the middle of the pack in scoring at 80.3 points per game. Allie Quigley leads the team at 17.3 points per game. Diamond DeShields and Courtney Vandersloot follow at 13.9 and 13.3, respectively.

“She’s a gamer. We knew from her UConn days that we can rely on her to put up numbers,” Vandersloot said of Williams. “She does so much more than that for us, and it’s not always going to show up in that stat sheet, but she can have nights like this. We just need to put some more people around her. Other people need to step up and she shouldn’t have to do it all by herself.”

Balance is also the key for the 4-2 Sparks, who lost to the Storm in Los Angeles for the first time since 2015 — and it was over almost before it started. Los Angeles trailed 15-4 and scored only nine first-quarter points.

Seattle opened a 20-point lead in the third quarter and sailed to the victory.

Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 19 points. Los Angeles’ other starters were held to single digits. Candace Parker, playing in only her third game, was held to six points.

An important reinforcement is on the way for the Sparks. On Saturday, they activated first-round pick Maria Vadeeva. The 19-year-old was expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday from Russia and be in uniform on Sunday.

The 6-foot-4 rookie center was the 11th overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Maria start her Sparks career,” general manager Penny Toler said. “Maria has experience going up against some of the best WNBA players in Europe, and at age 19 the sky’s the limit when thinking about her development and potential.”

While playing professionally in Europe, Vadeeva averaged 9.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks in 19.1 minutes per game last season.