Sparks gain playoff positioning with win over Mystics

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May 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Wilson official basketball with WNBA logo goes through the net during the game between the LA Sparks and the Las Vegas Aces at Crypto.com Arena.

May 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Wilson official basketball with WNBA logo goes through the net during the game between the LA Sparks and the Las Vegas Aces at Crypto.com Arena.
Image: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Layshia Clarendon’s 15 points led a balanced attack Sunday as the Los Angeles Sparks jumped into the WNBA’s final playoff spot with a week left in the regular season, dumping the Washington Mystics 72-64 in Los Angeles.

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Jordin Canada added 14 and Dearica Hamby put up a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double as the Sparks (16-21) went a full game ahead of Chicago with three games left. The Sky lost earlier Sunday to New York 86-69.

Brittney Sykes scored 14 points for Washington (17-20), while Li Meng and Myisha Hines-Allen each came off the bench to add 11. But leading scorer Elena Delle Donne made only 4 of 14 shots and finished with eight points, nine under her average.

Los Angeles took the lead for good when Karlie Samuelson and Clarendon converted consecutive 3-point plays for a 63-58 advantage with 4:40 left. Canada iced the game in the final minute by canning four straight free throws.

The Sparks were 21 of 24 at the foul line, while the Mystics made only 6 of 7. Los Angeles also carved out a 19-9 advantage in points off turnovers.

Washington got off to a strong start offensively by canning 9 of its first 14 shots and opening up a 21-19 first quarter lead. But one troubling sign was already popping up on the stat sheet: A half-dozen turnovers that helped Los Angeles more than double the Mystics in points off turnovers.

The Sparks started the second period with eight straight points, capping the run with a 3-pointer from Samuelson. While Washington fought back and briefly led later in the quarter, Los Angeles took a 38-34 edge to halftime on two free throws by Canada in the final minute.

Clarendon made two foul shots at the 4:59 mark of the third quarter for a 46-38 lead but the Mystics went on a 14-5 run to end the period. Delle Donne’s turnaround jumper with 3.2 seconds left gave them a 52-51 lead going to the fourth.

—Field Level Media

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