After an extended season-opening road trip that took them to Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Connecticut, the Los Angeles Sparks finally get to play in front of their fans Tuesday night.
Los Angeles welcomes the winless Minnesota Lynx to town for its home opener after going 2-2 on the trip. The Sparks were forced to settle for a .500 showing after a 77-60 loss Saturday night in Connecticut, where they hit only 23 percent of their shots in the first half in falling behind 49-25.
One bright spot throughout the road trip was the play of new point guard Jordin Canada, who leads the team averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists. Formerly the backup to Sue Bird in Seattle, Canada proved adept in pick-and-roll opportunities and gave the offense a lift it lacked last season.
"Just that not-backing-down mentality, rising to the occasion and just being challenged and accepting that challenge," Canada said of her mindset.
The Sparks are averaging 80 points a game, a vast improvement over the Western Conference-worst 72.3 they managed last year in missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Nneka Ogwumike (15.3 points per game), Liz Cambage (15.0) and Brittney Sykes (10.0) are also scoring in double figures for Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, despite major roster changes last week the Lynx (0-4) lost at home Saturday night, 82-78 to the Chicago Sky. Coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve had cut two projected starters and waived guard Odyssey Sims.
"We'll do what we have to do to get where we want to go, because there's only one path," Reeve said. "And that path is to be able to be difficult to play against from a physical standpoint and mental standpoint, your defense, your connection on offense."
Former University of Connecticut guards Moriah Jefferson and Evina Westbrook were signed Friday and played major minutes against Chicago. Jefferson scored 16 points and had five assists in 34 minutes. Nina Milic, one of three hardship signees, led the team with 18 points off the bench.
Sylvia Fowles, who is retiring at season's end, leads the team with 17.8 points and 9.3 rebounds. The Lynx have reached the WNBA Finals six times in the past 11 seasons, winning four championships.
Last season, they also started 0-4 but then went 22-6 the rest of the way.
--Field Level Media