View Original Notice ? Chennedy Carter’s ‘swag’ could be a factor vs. NY Liberty
LOS ANGELES — If the Sparks are going to end their three-game losing streak, guard Chennedy Carter could be the offensive catalyst, especially during back-to-back games against New York Liberty All-Star guard Sabrina Ionescu.
The Sparks (12-17) will play at the New York Liberty (11-18) on Tuesday and Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both games will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
The Sparks are currently in the eighth and final playoff spot with seven games remaining. However, only one game in the standings separates them and the Liberty, who are currently in the 11th spot.
Meanwhile, Carter, who Sparks interim head coach Fred Williams said is in consideration to be slotted into the starting lineup soon, is averaging 16 points per game in 21 minutes off the bench over the past three games. The 5-foot-9 guard has made 17 of her last 31 shots from the field, 54.5%. Carter’s hot shooting is well above the team’s 36.1%, 40.3% and 40.7% averages over the last three outings.
“As a defender, I’m glad she’s on my team,” said Sparks guard Brittney Sykes, a 2021 WNBA All-Defensive Team selection. “She puts a lot of pressure on your defense and your principles and she has a swag about her that can kind of get under your skin, which is great for us because it’s a part of our identity. Getting in you defensively and then getting out in transition, where she flourishes. Like Nneka, I’m proud of her, she’s made tremendous growth through this season.”
The Sparks are coming off an 84-77 loss to the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday night, where four players scored in double-digits; Nneka Ogwumike (23), Sykes (15), Carter (10) and Katie Lou Samuelson (10).
A few hours later, they were on an overnight cross-country flight to New York City, that ended with a morning bus ride to their east coast accommodations.
Meanwhile, Ogwumike said “rest” will be paramount when it comes to winning games on the team’s four-game road trip in New York, Atlanta and Washington D.C.
However, against the Liberty, the Sparks will have to contend with Ionescu, a triple-double threat, who is averaging 16.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. The 5-foot-11 point guard has recorded two triple-doubles this season. She scored 10 points and dished out a career-high 16 assists in the Liberty’s 89-69 win against the Phoenix Mercury at home on Sunday.
Liberty All-Star forward Natasha Howard, who is averaging 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, could also be a major factor, as she is coming off a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Mercury.
The Sparks have lost their last two games since the organization agreed to a “contract divorce” with Liz Cambage last week.
“It’s just about executing and staying within our style of basketball, not going outside of that,” Sykes said when asked about roster constraints and roles. “Everybody knows their role and everybody is playing their role real well. It’s just (we need to) make shots and play our basketball and stay confident in our stuff. Even if the stats don’t show or the score doesn’t show, we still have to stay confident within us and know that it’s going to click.”
Sparks guards Lexie Brown (heel) and Kristi Toliver (calf) are recovering from recent injuries. However, Williams is hopeful at least one of those veteran guards will be available against the Liberty, with Brown being listed as questionable in Monday’s injury report. Toliver has already been ruled out.
He also said he would like to bottle up the Sparks’ furious comeback from down 20 points in the fourth quarter against the Lynx and use it throughout the rest of the season.
“I think the thing is just staying after them. I had some emotional outbursts because I felt some things (Sunday) that I know I can get out of them and they responded very well,” Williams continued. “But I think the overall thing for us is a lot of film work and really doing some film study on each individual and as a team and trying to get better. We just have to be more consistent.”
Williams reiterated that it’s on both coaches and players to get the best out of the Sparks’ current roster.
“It’s a combination of both,” Williams explained. “To get them there is having a game plan, which we do have to get opportunities to shoot shots and make baskets. You get 83 (shot) attempts, that’s one point, the other is keeping your turnovers low, that’s another point and then when it’s on stage for the entertainers to entertain out there, it’s up to them to get it done and for me to keep them together as a team, to keep fighting for it.
“It’s just a matter of when the performers get out there on the floor, put that basketball in the basket and make that (field goal) percentage better.”