ATLANTA, GA—After securing a spot in this year’s playoffs in a 92-73 win over the Tulsa Shock on September 6, the Los Angeles Sparks came into Wednesday night’s matchup against the Atlanta Dream with a different kind of game plan.
Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler decided to rest Alana Beard, Nneka Ogumike and Candace Parker, while playing mostly rookies and reserves significant minutes in what ended in an ugly 90-60 loss inside Atlanta’s Philips Arena on September 9.
The loss does not affect playoff seeding for the Sparks, who are locked into the fourth and final spot in the Western Conference after winning 11 of its last 15 games. The franchise continues its dominance in the league, securing their 15th playoff spot in 17 years.
The Atlanta Dream, despite being eliminated from the playoffs earlier this week, put together an inspiring performance in the win, led by Angel McCoughtry’s 23 points off the bench, including 15 points alone in the first quarter for the four-time WNBA All-Star.
Shoni Schimmel, Tiffany Hayes and Damiris Dantas each added 15 points for Atlanta.
Jantel Lavender had a team-high 14 points for the Sparks and Ana Dabovic added 13 points and 8 assists. Rookies Crystal Bradford and Jennifer Hamson were both in the starting line-up for the first time in their short WNBA careers.
The Sparks were held to just 25 first half points and Atlanta scored 13 points off nine first half Los Angeles turnovers. The score was lopsided at halftime, 44-25, and it wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the night for a shorthanded Sparks team.
Atlanta dominated the rebounding as well, 54-28.
Dream head coach Michael Cooper, who coached the Sparks from 2007-09, became the fifth coach in WNBA history to win 200 games.
The Sparks will finish the regular season on Friday, September 11, in Phoenix before taking on the top-seeded team in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Lynx, in the first round of the 2015 WNBA playoffs next week.