Sparks Suffer Fifth Consecutive Loss in First Game Without Injured Rookie Brink

Sparks Suffer Fifth Consecutive Loss in First Game Without Injured Rookie Brink
Kia Nurse of the Los Angeles Sparks shoots between two Indiana Fever defenders in Indianapolis on May 28, 2024. (Michael Conroy/AP Photo)
Field Level Media

NEW YORK—A very difficult road trip for the Los Angeles Sparks did not get any better Thursday night against the New York Liberty.

Sabrina Ionescu and Jonquel Jones combined for 53 points while leading the Liberty to a 93–80 victory, handing the Sparks a fifth consecutive defeat, all to begin a seven-game trip.

The Sparks (4–12) were playing their first game since losing standout rookie Cameron Brink to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee suffered during a 79–70 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday. Brink, the former Stanford star chosen second overall in this year’s WNBA draft, was averaging 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocked shots per game.

Still, the Sparks came out ready to compete, especially Kia Nurse, who staked the team to a 5–0 lead in the first two minutes on the strength of a jumper and a 3-pointer. The Liberty soon got on track, tying the game at 14–14 on a 3-pointer from up top by Ionescu before taking their first lead at 16–14 on a jumper in the paint by Kayla Thornton.

Los Angeles’ Aari McDonald had 15 points, Zia Cooke scored 13, and Rae Burrell chipped in 11.

The teams meet again Saturday afternoon in New York.

Ionescu buried a season-best six 3-pointers to fuel her season-high total of 31 points for the Liberty (13–3). She also handed out a game-high nine assists. Jones logged 22 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds before fouling out as New York won for the ninth time in its past 10 games.

Breanna Stewart added 17 points for the Liberty after starting the night 0-for-6 from the floor, and Ivana Dojkic scored a season-high 12.

Ionescu sank a 3-pointer with 2:29 to play in the third quarter, stretching the Liberty’s lead to 66–54. Moments later, Jones knocked down a trey to put New York up by 15 points.

The Sparks trailed 73–56 after three quarters but got within 78–73 with 6:10 left on two free throws by Layshia Clarendon. Stewart followed with a 3-pointer, and the lead never dipped below six points the rest of the way.

New York led 19–17 at the end of the first period, and the score remained close in the second quarter, which featured five ties and four lead-changes. The final lead-change of the half belonged to the Liberty as Ionescu made a nice pass to Jones, who cut inside and sank a layup for a 35–33 advantage with 2:42 remaining. The Liberty led 43–36 at halftime.