The dynamic duo of Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike was literally forward and center for the Los Angeles Sparks. The sisters combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds in the team’s 77-70 win over the Connecticut Sun last Friday at the Staples Center.
“I think that they are still trying to figure it out just like a lot of our players are. It’s different what we are asking of them, but I still think that they have their own language,” shared Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher when asked about the impact of the Ogwumike sisters. “It’s a matter of being able to read each other without saying anything. They saved the day for us in a lot of ways tonight.”
The Sparks’ home opener also marked Chiney’s first game against her former team, who made her the No. 1 pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft. “It was fun. I can’t describe it any better than that,” said Chiney Ogwumike on facing her old teammates.
“Based on the game (a 13-point loss) versus Vegas, we just wanted to compete and be better. It doesn’t really matter who we’re going against,” continued Chiney. “It was just the mindset that we’re going to attack and be more aggressive, no matter who’s playing or who’s not playing.”
Ogwumike, who also works as an ESPN NBA Analyst, was traded by the Sun to the Sparks before training camp for the Sparks’ 2020 1st Round Pick.
5-TIME NBA CHAMP D-FISH GETS FIRST WIN IN THE W
Meanwhile, Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher, got his first win the W without three potential starters.
Although former WNBA MVP Candace Parker got some shots up pregame, CP3 is still recovering from a hamstring injury she suffered in the Sparks’ first preseason game. Maria Vadeeva is currently overseas playing in the the Russian National Team. Finally, back to back DPOY Alana Beard was given the night off with a left leg injury.
The 6’4 Vadeeva dropped 24 points on 55% shooting, five rebounds, three blocks, two steals and one assist while starting at center during the Sparks’ opener. Without her, Coach Fisher inserted Chiney Ogwumike into the starting lineup.
Chiney responded by leading the Sparks with 20 points by shooting 63.6% from the field, while grabbing seven rebounds.
Nneka was at least equally, if not more, impressive. She put up her second double-double of the season with 19 points (8-19 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 1-2 FT) and a team-high 15 rebounds against the Sun.
The elder Ogwumike also showcased her expanded outside game, knocking down two timely corner 3s, shooting 40% from three-point line.
SYD DA STARTER
6’0 Guard Sydney Wiese, secured one of the final roster spots over Karlie Samuelson and Ashley Walker after a competitive training camp.
Wiese only played two minutes against the Aces in the season opener but she got the surprise start at small forward in game two. She played nearly 30 out of 40 minutes, finishing with a team-high plus 12 in plus/minus.
“She is the type of player that you have on a championship team,” explained Coach Fisher.
”Sydney played 29 minutes, she made one shot. I’m not a plus/minus guy exclusively, but she had the highest plus/minus on the team with 12. She makes winning plays,” added Fisher. “She leaves who she is guarding in order to help another defender, and she isn’t worried about her matchup. She just does the right things. She deserved the opportunity to start.”
BATTLE OF THE BOARDS
The Sun finished with 51 rebounds in the game, compared to the Sparks’ 39. Jonquel Jones ate the Sparks up on the boards. JJ tied her career high of 22 rebounds that she set against the Washington Mystics in 2017.
Although being out rebounded is never ideal, Coach Fisher applauded his team’s defensive effort.
“[It’s] just their will to win. As a team, they just didn’t want to lose tonight. Early season, late season, there are games that you just have to go out and win. They figured out how to stay together and win the game,” said Fisher. “It wasn’t our best effort, but Connecticut is a good offensive team. They shot only 30%. They’ve easily scored high eighties, and to hold them to 70 points is a good thing, and a thing to build on,.”