Five Plays that defined Sparks vs. Sun Game 2

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For half of Game 2 of the Los Angeles Sparks and Connecticut Sun semifinal series, it looked like Los Angeles had a chance to even the series up at one game apiece.

And then the third quarter happened, and then the fourth quarter kept things rolling, and the Sun emerged with a 94-68 win.

Let’s look at five plays that defined Game 2.

Second Quarter: Jonquel Jones Putback (5:02)

The second half was really where the Sun took over, but I wanted to highlight one play from the first half that felt like a real moment. The Sparks are up 31-26 in the second quarter. Just over five minutes to play and Riquna Williams had just hit a three on the other end. It’s been mostly Sparks up to this point, but Connecticut had put a double-digit deficit down to a more manageable amount.

Courtney Williams brings the ball up. Hands off to Alyssa Thomas, who gets to driving. The Sparks do a good job getting in her way at the basket and forcing her to take the off balance shot, which she misses.

And then BOOM, there’s Jonquel Jones getting the rebound, one of 13 she had on the right. She puts it back in, gets fouled, and then makes the free throw.

Speaking of rebounding, the Sun outrebounded Los Angeles 46-24. That’s a lot. Coming into this series, I think Candace Parker and the Ogwumike sisters could slow down the Jones/Thomas front court, but through two games…yeah, not really!

Third Quarter: Courtney Williams Three (7:40)

I’m going to talk more about Courtney Williams when I talk about a different three she made, but I think it’s important to highlight the play that gave Connecticut their ultimate lead in an article where I talk about plays that defined the game, because taking the lead in a game and winning the game is the ultimate goal of the game.

This is a pretty simple play, in that Jasmine Thomas brings the ball up the floor, dribbles some, directs traffic some, and then ultimately makes one pass that leads directly to the Williams three. Williams is just entirely unphased by the defensive pressure from the Sparks and swishes the ball in.

Third Quarter: Alyssa Thomas Turnaround (6:48)

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate Alyssa Thomas playing with two torn shoulder labrums.

Now let’s take another moment to think about how Alyssa Thomas put up 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in this game with two torn shoulder labrums.

Now let’s take another another moment to think about how this was a two-point game with a jump ball happening and Jonquel Jones tips the ball over to Thomas, who immediately turns around and hits the hook shot with two torn shoulder labrums.

Alyssa Thomas is so good and we have to talk more about that. Before the Sun were like okay, we won this, Thomas had played every minute in this series.

Third Quarter: Jonquel Jones Three (5:11)

Important question: Is it fair that a team gets to have Jonquel Jones?

I mean, we looked at her put back already and talked about her rebounding, but she can also do this pick and pop thing here. Jones being able to shoot from deep isn’t her best skill — she shot just barely above 30% from three this year — but just the fact that she can do this changes so much.

And in the context of this game, the Sparks spend so long staying in this game and then the Sun go on a 12-0 run. So Riquna Williams ends the run with a bucket on the other end, and then Jones does this, and what do you even do at that point? This was the moment where I said “I think the Sun have this” and even if it wasn’t the exact moment their win percentage jumped to 100% or something, it was a huge moment that showed the Sparks weren’t about to go on a run of their own.

Third Quarter: Courtney Williams Three (2:41)

Like…what? Williams brings the ball up the court. Dribbles. Stops. Dribbles. Shoots.

This pushes the Sun lead to 13 and even though there’s still two and a half minutes left in the third quarter, this shot has all the characteristics of a dagger, so I’m just going to go ahead and call it the dagger. Courtney Williams — who had 25 points in this one — was just magic on Thursday night, and this play was the real highlight of that magic in action. At one point, one of the ESPN announcers said something about her becoming a star, which felt wrong because she was a star in this game.

There were other plays in this one that were fun and that mattered. I didn’t even touch on the Sparks side of things or on what their strong start could mean in Game 3.

But also…I’m not sure it matters that much. The Sun have consistently been the better team and have a 2-0 lead. They’re a win away from the Finals. The Sparks had a good first half, but even with a good first half, Connecticut was right there.

I picked this to be a five-game series originally. Thursday has me thinking the Sun close this out in Game 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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