Los Angeles – The Indiana Fever fell to the league-best Los Angeles Sparks 94-88 on Wednesday night (July 6) at Staples Center after nearly completing a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback. Indiana never led in the contest but made comeback attempts throughout, reducing a 20-point deficit to just one point with 8.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
After scoring just 30 points in the first half, Indiana scored 58 second half points and completely reversed their shooting woes. They ended with a 53.1 percent mark on the evening, including 7-for-13 (53.8 percent) from deep. Los Angeles shot 55.6 percent on the night.
Nneka Ogumwike had a game-high 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting. Candace Parker netted 20 points on 7-for-11 from the floor to go along with five assists and three rebounds. Jantel Lavender added 15 points and seven rebounds while Kristi Toliver added 15 points as well. The Sparks had five players in double figures.
Tiffany Mitchell led Indiana with 20 points on 4-for-5 from 3-point range in just 25 minutes. The always-efficient Erlana Larkins tallied 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Tamika Catchings added 14 points and four steals while Briann January netted 13 points and four assists. Erica Wheeler contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists and a plethora of huge plays late in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles jumped out to an 11-0 start before Erlana Larkins reeled off all six of Indiana’s first six points to get the Fever back to form. Indiana trailed 21-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Tiffany Mitchell netted a 3 just over a minute into the second period to bring Indiana back to within four points. That was as close as Indiana would come until the final minute.
Indiana scored just 16 points in the second quarter as the Sparks increased the lead back to 11 (41-30). Larkins and Mitchell led Indiana with seven points apiece at the break, but the Sparks’ Ogwumike had 17 points at the half on 7-for-7 shooting.
Indiana scored the first three points of the second half to cut the lead to eight (41-33), but it was all Sparks through the rest of the third culminating in a buzzer-beater by Jantel Lavender. Los Angeles led 67-49 heading to the fourth where they eventually controlled an 80-60 lead.
Indiana compiled a 12-2 run late in the fourth to bring the game back to within 10 (82-72). After yet another stop, Larkins dished to an open Erica Wheeler for a trifecta (82-75) on the left wing with 2:50 left on the clock.
After a pair of Candace Parker free throws, Wheeler grabbed an offensive rebound and found January for a knock-down three to bring the Fever within six (84-78) with 1:58 remaining.
A Wheeler reverse-layup and the foul combatted another set of Sparks’ free throws before a three from Los Angeles’ Essence Carson seemingly put the game out of reach, 89-81. Larkins and January would scrap for late free throws and cut the game to 89-85 before a pair of missed free throws by Parker. Mitchell buried a three with 10 seconds left to bring Indiana with one (89-88) and the smallest deficit of the game.
Indiana packaged a valiant comeback attempt with a 28-9 run in 6:22 of the final 6:30.
After fouling with 8.1 seconds, Carson netted two free throws leaving Indiana just enough time for one last possession. A January 3-point attempt was blocked by Parker with five seconds left and Los Angeles prevailed, 94-88.
Los Angeles improved to 17-1 on the season while Indiana fell to 7-11. The Fever will be in action on Friday (July 8) in Phoenix when they take on the Mercury at 10 p.m. ET.