With four rookies earning extensive playing time and three of them starting occasionally over the first nine games, the Indiana Fever couldn’t have expected to win a lot of games.
But a five-game losing streak marked by frequent defensive lapses was apparently the final straw for Indiana (2-7). It fired coach Marianne Stanley on Wednesday and named assistant Carlos Knox the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Knox and the Fever will try to return to the win column on Friday night when they host the Los Angeles Sparks in Indianapolis.
“With this new group of players, it is time for our organization to go in a different direction,” said Indiana interim general manager Lin Dunn.
Knox is in his second stint coaching for the Fever. He served as the franchise’s player development coach from 2014-16 and has been an assistant coach at Cincinnati, North Texas and San Diego State.
Stanley’s last game as Indiana’s coach was a 95-90 defeat Tuesday night in Chicago. The Fever have allowed a whopping 88.9 points per game, permitting opponents to sink 45.9 percent of their field goals and 36.7 percent of 3-point attempts.
Indiana is getting 18.7 points per game from its leading scorer, Kelsey Mitchell, who had 25 in Chicago. But rookie NaLyssa Smith (ankle), who averaged 13.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in the first five games, has missed the past four.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles (3-5) got back into the win column Wednesday night, outscoring Phoenix 99-94 at home to end a five-game skid. The Sparks hit 59.1 percent of their field goal attempts, going 8 of 11 from the 3-point line.
Nneka Ogwumike scored 23 points to lead five players in double figures, while Liz Cambage added 21 and seven rebounds. Katie Lou Samuelson contributed 17 points and a key blocked shot down the stretch.
Samuelson is still getting into a groove with the team after joining the Sparks following the end of her Spanish league season.
“Katie Lou’s asked to do a lot in trying to catch up to the rest of the group,” coach Derek Fisher said. “And I’m just happy for her that she had a good night.”
The teams met on May 8 in Indianapolis and Cambage had her way inside with 22 points and 11 rebounds in Los Angeles’ 87-77 decision.
–Field Level Media