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2019 WNBA Semifinals Analysis (Game 2): Sun scorch Sparks for 2-0 series lead

Despite a hot start by the visiting Los Angeles Sparks, the Connecticut Sun turned out a huge 94-68 win in Thursday night’s Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals, for the 2-0 series lead.

Right away, it seemed the Sparks had learned exactly what they needed to learn from Tuesday’s loss. In the first quarter, Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams, who combined for six points in Game 1, scored 11 total points. Plus, the team limited the Sun to 31.8% shooting.

But from then on out, everything came up Sun.

Los Angeles couldn’t maintain its hot shooting, and its defense broke down, with Connecticut getting close to the basket and pumping up its shooting percentage. After scoring just 15 points in the opening frame, the Sun matched that total with Jonquel Jones’ nine points, and Courtney Williams’ six, en route to a 26-16 second quarter and a one-point halftime lead.

Notably, Connecticut was also active on the glass. Alyssa Thomas grabbed 10 of her 13 rebounds in the first half while Jones snatched seven of her 13. The Sun went on to out-rebound the Sparks 46-24, the second-biggest rebounding difference in WNBA Playoffs history.

The second half was much like Game 1’s in terms of sheer Sun dominance. Connecticut put up a 29-17 third quarter and a 24-11 fourth quarter to seal the 26-point win. Simply put, the Sparks were out of gas in the second half, with none of that first-quarter magic remaining.

Meanwhile, the Sun had plenty saved for later. They made eight of their 10 three-pointers in the second half. Conversely, the Sparks made all four of theirs in the first half.

Led by Jonquel Jones’ 27 points and Courtney Williams’ 25, the Sun’s high-scoring effort also landed them in the team’s record books: It was the biggest playoffs scoring outing and the largest margin of victory in franchise history.

Alyssa Thomas’ 12 points and Rachel Banham’s 11 off the bench rounded out the top scorers.

Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 18 points and seven rebounds, Riquna Williams scored 14 points and Chelsea Gray and Chiney Ogwumike had 10 apiece. After her 24-point, 10-rebound Game 1, Candace Parker was quiet on Thursday, scoring just three points.

The Sparks get to head home for Sunday’s Game 3 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2), where they’re usually just as excellent as the Sun. However, with the location of the Emmys preempting Staples Center events this weekend, this game will take place an hour away at Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State instead.