Caitlin Clark helps gasoline Fever surge in comeback victory over Sparks

A file Sparks crowd of 19,103 packed into Arena to look at them and No. 2 draft choose Cameron Brink face the Indiana Fever and No. 1 choose Caitlin Clark on Friday night time.

The electrical environment felt acquainted for Sparks coach Curt Miller. It introduced him again to 2015, when he was an assistant coach because the Sparks constructed up for his or her championship run the next 12 months.

“This crowd is like again then, after they had been poised to win championships they usually had nice groups and that rivalry in that period with Minnesota,” Miller mentioned after the Sparks misplaced a 78-73 thriller. “I’m so excited to see the fan base again. I’m excited to see Crypto crammed to the rafters, the third deck open. It’s simply wonderful for us and girls’s basketball generally.”

The crowd appeared to carry its collective breath each time Clark touched the ball, ready to see one thing — something — wonderful.

She contributed 11 factors, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals because the Fever (1-5) labored to beat an 11-point halftime deficit. And then, after a tough capturing night time, it occurred.

After Rickea Jackson hit an enormous three-pointer to chop the Sparks’ deficit to a few within the fourth quarter, Clark took received the ball in transition and drained a wide-open three — her first of the night time — because the L.A. crowd roared.

“I used to be excited to return right here and play on this place, clearly a lot historical past on this constructing,” Clark mentioned. “The crowd was completely wonderful.”

The Sparks’ rookies, Brink and Jackson, additionally hit large photographs to maintain the workforce inside placing distance as time ran down, however Clark delivered a dagger, stepping again and hitting a three-pointer with 40 seconds left to assist seal the Fever’s first win and hand the Sparks their third loss in 4 video games.

“That third quarter actually set the tone for the remainder of the sport. We received out-toughed at each ends of the court docket,” Miller mentioned. “They simply sped us up with their physicality and made it tough for our wings. … So hats off to the physicality of Indiana and scrapping to that victory.”

The Sparks received off to a fast begin due to the play of Dearica Hamby, who had 16 factors, six rebounds and 5 assists within the first half because the workforce cruised to a snug lead on the break. Jackson and Brink weren’t far behind with seven and 6 factors, respectively. Brink additionally chipped in six rebounds and a blocked shot.

Whatever was working for them within the first half nevertheless, was unsustainable. The Sparks turned the ball over 13 occasions within the second half. Hamby made two free throws within the closing seconds however in any other case was held scoreless within the second half, which she attributed to a mix of fatigue and frustration.

“That’s the place I received to be higher,” Hamby mentioned. “I’m not used to being on this place to take that load, in order that’s a studying adjustment that I’m going to need to tackle. I can’t enable me not touching the ball to frustrate [me] and have lapses on protection. I’ll be higher.”

Indiana stormed out of the gates to begin the second half with a 9-0 run led by Kelsey Mitchell (18 factors), Aliyah Boston (17 factors, six rebounds), final season’s No.1 draft choose, and heart Temi Fagbenle (17 factors, six rebounds, three assists) to begin the third quarter and tie the rating.

“That’s a credit score to Temi’s motor,” Miller mentioned of Fagbenle’s efficiency. “Temi’s physicality and her rim operating bothered us. We talked rather a lot about it going into the sport … [she] actually made issues occur.”

Jackson received the lead again on a 3, the Sparks’ first factors of the second half, 5 minutes into the third. The rookies led the cost offensively, every making enormous performs in crunch time. Jackson completed with 16 factors and Brink 15.

“There was flashes for each of them to have actually good nights,” Miller mentioned. “Cam’s line, 15 and 9, and I feel she might’ve been much more dominant. And then Rickea made some large baskets for us, so that you see that potential. They’re going to be large for us all 12 months, and I feel each of them would say that they’ll play higher.”

Jackson mentioned she’s centered on easy methods to convert early losses into wins.

“We didn’t get the win, so I’m not excited or ecstatic about that,” she mentioned. “But I really feel like we’re simply going to continue to grow and be taught from our errors right now.”

The Sparks host the Dallas Wings on Sunday earlier than a rematch in opposition to Clark and the Fever in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

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