Nneka Ogwumike leads Sparks against hapless Dream

National Sports

Nneka Ogwumike is back in action for the Los Angeles Sparks, and their winning ways instantly returned.

The Sparks are 2-0 since the former WNBA MVP returned from a knee injury and aim to add another victory to the tally when they host the Atlanta Dream on Thursday.

The contest is the second straight meeting between the teams. Los Angeles recorded an 85-80 overtime win on Tuesday to hand Atlanta (6-15) its sixth straight setback.

The Sparks (8-13) lost the finals six contests of Ogwumike’s 14-game absence and are now attempting to put together a late playoff run.

Ogwumike, who was injured on June 1, returned Sunday to contribute 12 points and seven rebounds in a 75-70 home win over the Indiana Fever. She followed up with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with nine rebounds and nine assists in Tuesday’s game against Atlanta.

There was a scare in the second quarter when Ogwumike fell awkwardly and grabbed for her left knee. She returned for the second half and ended up playing 38 minutes.

“She got hit on the face on the play so it took her focus away from controlling the way she was going to the ground and I think she kind of landed weird and it kind of freaked her out more than what actually had happened,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher told reporters.

“Medical (personnel) checked her out at halftime, made sure everything was structurally fine, no issues … she’ll be fine.”

Los Angeles won the game but needed Kristi Toliver to hit a 15-foot turnaround at the end of regulation to force overtime. The Sparks controlled the extra session to send Atlanta to a painful defeat.

The Dream have dropped 13 of their last 15 games as they enter the finale of a three-game Western trip that began with a 92-81 loss to the Phoenix Mercury.

“We have to fight, scrap and claw during each game,” Atlanta interim coach Darius Taylor recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s tough to win in this league, but we have to give ourselves a chance and let the chips fall.”

Former Los Angeles player Odyssey Sims scored a season-high 26 points on Tuesday for the Dream for her fourth 20-point effort of the season. She is averaging 9.1 points in 21 games (14 starts).

Atlanta has been without top player Tiffany Hayes (17.6 average in 11 games) for two months due to an MCL tear in her right knee.

–Field Level Media

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