2024 LA Sparks Season
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2024 8:58 am    Post subject: 2024 LA Sparks Season

This is the most stacked Sparks team since the last championship team. Many players from last season have left but the Sparks got really lucky in the draft.

Last season, the two biggest deficits were interior defense and playmaking. They've addressed the interior defense problem with the additions of Brink and Li Yueru and they've addressed the playmaking problem with the addition of Allemand. Last season's team also struggled to score when Nneka was out of the line-up. The addition of Rikea and others should offset that completely.

Right now, there are 19 players competing for 12 spots. I don't know most of the foreign players but I have seen Li Yueru play 2 complete games in the Euroleague. She dominated in the post so I think she'll make the roster.

The starting five should be:

Li (center)
Brink (pf)
Rikea (sf)
Rae (sg)
Allemand (pg)

This is a tall line-up and should give the Sparks a huge rebounding advantage and rebounding is even more important in the WNBA.

The biggest challenge this season is finding someone who can guard Breanna Stewart and Aja Wilson. Can Brink and Rikea defend these types of players?

Sparks lacked depth last season but now they have Lexie, Zia, and Kia - all competent shooters. On paper, this team is far better.

This team is a contender, barring injuries.
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2024 8:16 pm    Post subject: Preseason in Canada

The Sparks won a close one vs the Storm. Cameron Brink and Rikea Jackson both played well. Brink provided much needed interior defense and Jackson scored easily off the dribble. The Storm struggled to score in the paint because of the tall line-up but they were in the game because the Sparks turned the ball over 17 times in the first half and ended up with 24 turnovers total.

The Sparks don't have a competent playmaker. Clarendon struggled on offense against ball pressure but she was excellent on defense. They tried Cooke, McDonald, Clouden, and Dietrick at pg. Dietrick is probably the best ball handler of the four; Cooke and McDonald should never play the point. Clarendon is not starter material, but they don't have anyone else.

The positives were the 3-pt shooting and the defense (shot blocking/altering and rebounding). The cons were the playmaking and the coaching.

Coach Miller: You need to tailor the offense to the talents of your players. Brink only took 1 shot in the first half and you had Jackson coming off the bench when she's the most talented scorer on the team. There wasn't a single pick and roll play or a single cut to the basket.

It's just preseason, but if Rikea doesn't start and they don't run the offense through Brink or Rikea, they're going to struggle.

The most urgent need is a point guard who can distribute the ball and make shots. Dietrick can dribble and pass but she doesn't take shots. What happened with that Belgian guard? Is she not with the team yet?

The Chinese player, Li Yueru did ok. She missed shots at the basket but she played good defense.

Billings had a good game as well.

In the first post, I said they were deep and could contend on paper. After seeing them play, they're middle of the pack but they're one good point guard away from contending. I see them making the playoffs but getting bounced in the first round.
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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2024 8:37 pm    Post subject: Preseason vs Phoenix Mercury

The Sparks won fairly easily because of a large rebounding advantage due to Griner missing the game. They outrebounded the Mercury 42 to 20.

This game was very similar to the last game. The Sparks turned the ball over 21 times but were very efficent shooting 3s (52%) and played great defense.

The standouts were Hamby, Nurse, Cooke, and Billings. Brink got in early foul trouble and sat most of the game; Rickea looked sluggish for some reason and took some bad shots.

Once again, McDonald and Clarendon struggled to play the point. That's on the coach. McDonald's a good scoring sg but she's asked to play the point and her ball-handling is terrible.

Right now, with Allemand out due to an ankle injury, the Sparks only have one decent ball-handler and that's Dietrick. The offense looked much better in the 6 minutes that she was on the court.

I hope Billings and Dietrick don't get cut because Billings is a very active rebounder and I think she's a better defender than Stevens by a wide margin.

I don't know how long Allemand will be out and Dietrick is the only capable ball-handler on the team. After 2 pre-season games, I don't have much confidence in the coach because I saw very little adjustments to huge problems. They need to sign another pg if they're not going to play Dietrick.

Players I would cut: Clouden, McDonald, Talbot, Burrell, Forbes. Defense wins championships so if they need to cut another player, I would cut Azura Stevens.
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2024 2:27 pm    Post subject: Final Roster

They've cut the roster down to 12 players. I think they made 3 big mistakes - cutting Monique Billings, Blake Dietrick, and Julie Allemand.

Billings is a rebounding machine and high energy type player. Judging from the 2 preseason games, she's easily better than Stephanie Talbot and Azura Stevens on defense. I hope Billings gets picked up by another team.

Dietrick was the only capable point guard in the 2 preseason games. If the coaching staff thinks McDonald or Cooke can play pg, they are going to be very disappointed.

Allemand was the other point guard they cut. She was injured.

In both preseason games, the team had over 20 turnovers/game because their guards can't dribble and pass. Clarendon very frequently jumps and spins to throw passes and she passes not to make plays, but just to get rid of the ball when there is defensive pressure.

If you look at all their guards: Nurse, Cooke, Browne, McDonald, and Clarendon - these are players who can score and play defense, but have zero playmaking abilities. Unless there is a trade for a pg or if they pick up a waived player, the Sparks are going to struggle on offense. This is sad because there is no one to feed the post to Brink and no one to run the pick and roll with Jackson. The coaching staff had the exact same problem for all of last season and they still haven't made any personnel changes. I'm disappointed.

On the other hand, Paige Bueckers is worth tanking for, so maybe that's the goal.
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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2024 10:02 pm    Post subject: Season Opener vs the Atlanta Dream

Sparks lose in the season opener vs the Atlanta Dream. Both rookies had good games, especially Brink. She made 2 threes and had 2 blocks and 4 assists to go along with 11 pts. Unfortunately, Brink got 2 fouls in the first 4 minutes and only played 20 minutes. Jackson looked active tonight but only shot 3/10; that's not a concern because she was able to get good looks.

Hamby, Nurse, and Clarendon had great games. Hamby's conditioning this season is much improved. She defended Tina Charles well and grabbed 14 boards. Nurse made 5 threes, and Clarendon had her first career triple double.

Brown scored all of her 8 pts in a 3 minute span but disappeared the rest of the game.

The rest of the team didn't contribute much. Cooke, McDonald, Burrell, Yueru, and Talbot scored a combined 1 point. Yikes.

The game was tied at the end of the 1st quarter, the half, and the 3rd, but the Sparks gave up 11 pts to start the 4th (when the starters were out) and never recovered.

As I pointed out, the Sparks need another ball handler. You can't play Cooke and McDonald at the same time because neither are playmakers. When both players are on the court, the offense looks disjointed. So far, I haven't seen adjustments from Coach Miller.

They should probably try Talbot at the point with one of either Cooke or McDonald. I think they made a huge mistake in cutting 2 point guards.
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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2024 1:30 pm    Post subject: Game 2 vs the Champs

The Sparks lost in a close game to the Aces. They started out strong and lead at the end of the 1st. Once again, Nurse and Hamby had great games. And once again, when the starters sat, the Aces went on a huge run in the 2nd quarter. That was the game and the Sparks never recovered.

The positives: Hamby is looking like an all-star; she's much improved from last season - just quicker and more aggressive. Brink is a monster on defense and had 5 blocks and 8 boards, but she struggled on offense. Jackson had a very efficient game (13 pts on 5/6 shooting) but Coach Miller only played her 22 minutes.

The negatives: Brink still commits bad fouls. The Sparks still don't have a 2ndary ball handler. I did see an adjustment though. Coach Miller had Brown playing the point in the 2nd half, but the game was already out of reach by then. When Cooke or McDonald aren't hitting threes, they are huge liabilities. The offense looks ugly when both Cooke and McDonald are on the court.

I don't see this team going far because they have the worst point guard play in the league. Put Caitlyn on this team and they are instant contenders.
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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2024 10:11 pm    Post subject: Game 3: Mystics are really bad

Sparks won ugly in a close game vs the Washington Mystics. They turned the ball over 24 times and it wasn't due to great defense. The guard play is terrible. Lexie Brown had 7 turnovers and most of those were bad passes; they have Brown playing pg most of the 2nd half. She's terrible at playmaking but slightly less terrible than Cooke and McDonald.

Coach Miller made another big adjustment - he's drastically cut the playing times of Cooke, McDonald, and Yueru. Meanwhile, Monique Billings had 20 pts, 10 boards, and 3 blocks starting for Dallas; the Sparks could've had Billings instead of Burrell or Yueru.

Brink only took 2 shots but she did have 4 blocks, 8 boards, and 3 assists. More importantly, she stayed out of foul trouble. Jackson had 5 turnovers, but she was efficient on offense and ended up with 9 pts. She also had several deflections.

How did the Sparks win with 24 turnovers? They played great defense. Hamby had another great game with 18 boards and 17 pts. Brown and Nurse both made 3 threes.

The Mystics are still winless but they barely lost to the Sparks. I think the front office plans on tanking the season. That's gotta be why the team is so poorly constructed.
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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2024 8:30 pm    Post subject: Game 4: The Caitlyn Clark Show

Another ugly game but this time the Sparks lose to the winless Indiana Fever. It's the same problem - turnovers. The Sparks racked up 18 turnovers tonight. They still played great defense, but the two starting guards - Brown and Nurse shot a miserable 0-12 from threes.

Positives: Hamby had a great first half; Jackson shot very efficiently and scored 16 pts; Brink scored 15 pts, had 2 blocks, and grabbed 9 boards.

Negatives: Coach Miller had Brown run the point again because there are no other ball handlers on the team. Brown had 4 turnovers and took at least 4 terrible shots from distance. Brink still can't set screens and tries to block every shot even when she's in foul trouble - just bad decision making from the rookie. The offense is going to look ugly until the Sparks get another point guard.

Caitlyn had a great game and made 2 deep threes in the 4th. The Fever needed this win because they play the champs tomorrow.

This is a tank season so there isn't much the Coach can do; the roster is flawed by design. Hopefully, they get a good point guard in the draft next season.
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PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2024 9:04 pm    Post subject: Game 5: Monique Billings is back

Sparks lost by 1 pt to an average Dallas Wings team that played last night. The difference maker was Monique Billings, signed on a hardship contract with the Dallas Wings after being cut by the Sparks. Billings had 18 pts and 12 boards. Imagine if the Sparks had that level of talent; Billings would be the 4th best player on the Sparks had they kept her. Oh well.

Positives: Brink had a break-out scoring game and ended up with 21 pts and 3 blocks. Hamby struggled early but still managed to put up 19 pts and 13 boards. Yueru finally contributed with a near double double off the bench. Cooke and McDonald played extended minutes and only turned the ball over once.

Negatives: Clarendon got injured from a massive screen set by McCowan so the Sparks are now without any point guards. Brown and Nurse stunk it up once again and shot 4/14 from the field. Brink got in early foul trouble for the 4th time in 5 games. I think the coach should yank her after her 1st foul as a teaching moment because Brink can't seem to control herself when she commits silly fouls.

The Sparks are the 2nd worse team in the league, not by record but by the eye test. The Fever are a worse team by one additional loss but I think they'll have a lot more wins at the end of the season. They're not going to out-tank the Mystics but they should end up with the 2nd worse record. Hopefully, they get a competent point guard out of the draft next year.
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2024 5:39 pm    Post subject: Game 6: Caitlyn vs Kia

Sparks beat the Fever in a game decided by runs. Sparks lead early but went behind by halftime. Nurse and McDonald went crazy from threes, hitting 8/11 in the 2nd half. The Sparks doubled Clark many times and her team mates could not make shots. Boston got in early foul trouble and only played 6 minutes in the first half.

Positives: Hamby got a double double and Nurse found her shot, shooting 5/6 from distance. McDonald scored from distance and at the rim. She's quick so she was able to get several lay-ups just by blowing past players off the dribble. Jackson made her first start and was aggressive going to the hoop; she shot 7/10 freethrows.

Negatives: Brink got in foul trouble in the 2nd half and only played 24 minutes but she did get 2 blocks. Clarendon is out with a concussion; Brown injured her wrist when she ran into Lexie Hull and didn't play much in the 2nd half. Cooke played out of control. Burrell sagged off shooters many times and got burned but she did hit 2 threes.

It was another ugly game; Sparks had 20 turnovers but they played great defense. Nurse's defense on Clark was excellent. Yueru's presence makes a difference on defense and she can rebound but she's a terrible scorer inside and struggles to pass out of double teams. Let's hope Brown's injury isn't too serious because the offense already looks ugly.
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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2024 4:49 am    Post subject: Game 7: Worst Game of the Season

Sparks lost to an average team, the Chicago Sky. The game was over by the middle of the 1st quarter when the Sky went up by double digits and then increased the lead to 21 pts in the 2nd quarter. With the exception of Hamby, every Sparks player had a bad game.

Positives: Hamby played 39 minutes again and put up 24 pts and 13 boards. Jackson shot an efficient 4/5 and did a job on defense. Brink played good defense and controlled the boards and she didn't get into foul trouble.

Negatives: Coach Miller was away from the team so the assistant took over and she did a terrible job, subbing out Jackson and Brink early in the game in favor of Cooke and Burrell. I counted 6 turnovers from the team trying to pass the ball in traffic to Hamby in the post. There were at least 3 more turnovers passing out of the post. Nurse sagged off of Mabrey multiple times and got burned. Cooke missed every shot. Brown shot 1/4 and had 3 turnovers. Brink lead the team in turnovers with 4; she got picked dribbling in front of a guard, missed a great pass, and threw a lousy pass in traffic. The whole team was unprepared for this one.

Basically, half the team needs to go. Cooke, Burrell, and Talbot have not had a single good game. Brown's shooting has suffered ever since she's been asked to run the point. Over these 7 games, Brown is shooting 34.3% fg while averaging 2.4 turnovers. Yikes. McDonald is feast or famine; she either has great games or lousy games. I think lots of trades are in order.

This is the problem with tanking: players like Hamby, who's having her best season, get screwed because her prime years are being wasted on a bad team. The Sparks wasted so many great years from Nneka. If they don't get a top 2 pick, this season will have been a disaster.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2024 4:00 am    Post subject:

Sparks still paying for Derek Fishers mistakes in his previous tenure.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2024 8:13 pm    Post subject: Game 8: Tank Hard

Sparks lose in a blow-out to the Phoenix Mercury, a below-average team. Sparks had a huge advantage inside but their guards can not feed the post. This is another 18 turnover game; the tank strategy is pretty simple - limit Brink and Jackson's minutes and play Cooke and McDonald as much as possible.

The game was over by the 2nd quarter when the Sparks only managed to score 7 pts. Ugly game all around. Brown missed every shot and didn't score. McDonald had her 1 good game against Indiana so we're due for half a dozen bad games; she shot 1/5. Everyone had a bad game except Hamby.

Positives: Hamby scored 23 pts and had 3 steals on very efficient shooting. Brink didn't get into foul trouble.

Negatives: Everyone else was terrible. The Sparks lead the league in turnovers with 18/game. The commentators insinuated that Nneka and Jordin Canada both wanted out because of the coach. That's the risk in tanking; good players aren't going to sign with a team that tanks.

The coaching was terrible; the guards don't even know how to feed the post. The guards failed to take advantage of Taurasi on offense; she's 42 yrs old and neither Cooke nor McDonald even attempted to drive past her. The point guards over dribble on every possession resulting in multiple desperate heaves. I have no idea how Coach Miller won COY when his players can't even pass the ball.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2024 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: Game 8: Tank Hard

Scoffs wrote:
Sparks lose in a blow-out to the Phoenix Mercury, a below-average team. Sparks had a huge advantage inside but their guards can not feed the post. This is another 18 turnover game; the tank strategy is pretty simple - limit Brink and Jackson's minutes and play Cooke and McDonald as much as possible.

The game was over by the 2nd quarter when the Sparks only managed to score 7 pts. Ugly game all around. Brown missed every shot and didn't score. McDonald had her 1 good game against Indiana so we're due for half a dozen bad games; she shot 1/5. Everyone had a bad game except Hamby.

Positives: Hamby scored 23 pts and had 3 steals on very efficient shooting. Brink didn't get into foul trouble.

Negatives: Everyone else was terrible. The Sparks lead the league in turnovers with 18/game. The commentators insinuated that Nneka and Jordin Canada both wanted out because of the coach. That's the risk in tanking; good players aren't going to sign with a team that tanks.

The coaching was terrible; the guards don't even know how to feed the post. The guards failed to take advantage of Taurasi on offense; she's 42 yrs old and neither Cooke nor McDonald even attempted to drive past her. The point guards over dribble on every possession resulting in multiple desperate heaves. I have no idea how Coach Miller won COY when his players can't even pass the ball.


This is the first game I've been able to watch start to finish. Do we have a coaching problem or something why aren't we winning anything? We seem to have talent. ?????
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2024 11:55 am    Post subject:

And thanks for doing these write ups I'm gonna go back and read them and try and understand what I'm looking at here.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2024 7:05 pm    Post subject:

TDRock wrote:
And thanks for doing these write ups I'm gonna go back and read them and try and understand what I'm looking at here.
Yes, thank you Scoffs.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2024 4:11 pm    Post subject:

Sparks are clearly strategically positioning themselves to draft Paige Bueckers
Byron Scott would be proud.

But I like the potential. Brink is awesome
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2024 6:58 pm    Post subject:

😖



EDIT -
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2024 4:54 am    Post subject: Game 9: Brickfest at Crypto

Sparks were out of the game at the 4 minute mark of the first quarter to the mediocre Minnesota Lynx. They were outscored 11-0 and never recovered. Hamby showed up but no one else did.

Positives: Clarendon is back from her concussion; Jackson is finally starting over Brown. Hamby racked up another double double with 17 pts and 11 boards.

Negatives: Clarendon is back with 4 turnovers and 3 missed lay-ups. Yueru missed about 3 lay-ups because she does not jump. Burrell and Nurse both missed wide open lay-ups. The whole team could not hit the broadside of Mt. Everest. They shot an embarrassing 4/28 from threes (14.3%) and 26% fg. Yikes. Brink finally fouled out for the first time, so she's been in foul trouble in 6 of the 9 games. McDonald is still in famine mode shooting only 1/10.

Adjustments: Brown is finally on the bench where she belongs; Cooke only got garbage minutes today, also deserved. Talbot and Burrell both got more playing time but neither did much with it.

The Crypto crowd looked very small on TV because this is a bad team with a bad coach and a bad front office. I think Brink and Jackson would thrive on other teams.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2024 8:31 pm    Post subject: Game 10: 1st win at Crypto

Sparks finally win one at Crypto, beating the Dallas Wings in a close game. They started slow and went behind 7-0, but finally got lots of bench production from Brown, McDonald, and Yueru. The Wings are missing 3 starters so they are a struggling team, but a win is a win.

Positives: Brown found her shot and hit 4/8 from threes; that was the difference maker in the game. Brink and Hamby both got double doubles. Hamby is leading the league with 8 double doubles. Jackson played pretty good defense and she had a highlight crossover move. Talbot has ballhandling and passing skills.

Negatives: Nurse had her 2nd 0-fer of the season; Talbot has zero offensive skills and missed every shot, including a lay-up. Brink is not a good distance shooter and missed 2 wide open threes badly. She really is a lot like AD (shoots way too many threes, blocks shots, makes plays, and falls down a lot).

In this game, Talbot got the minutes over Cooke. This is a good move because there were only 14 turnovers instead of the usual 20. Talbot should probably be handling the ball a lot more because she rarely turns the ball over. I like that the Coach rewards good games by the bench with more playing time.

Sparks aren't going to out-tank the Mystics, who are still winless, but I think they got the 2nd worst record locked up.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2024 8:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Game 8: Tank Hard

TDRock wrote:

This is the first game I've been able to watch start to finish. Do we have a coaching problem or something why aren't we winning anything? We seem to have talent. ?????


The Sparks have a flawed roster - only 1 legit ballhandler on the team. Their guards, Lexie Brown, Aari McDonald, and Zia Cooke can not run the point because they have poor ballhandling and passing skills; that's why they lead the league in turnovers. They also can't feed the post players because of the bad passing. The two rookies don't get enough touches or playing time; with Brink, it's mostly her foul trouble but with Rickea, it's the coach. For some reason, the Coach doesn't like to play Rickea even though she's the only player on the team who can get her own shot regularly.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 9:39 pm    Post subject: Game 11: Feast Mode McDonald

Sparks win another one at Crypto vs the Las Vegas Aces in a close game marked by runs. The Aces went ahead 14-0 to start the game but the Sparks bench, lead by McDonald and Brown, largely eliminated that early lead. McDonald dropped 10 pts in the first half and finished with 16 pts. Hamby got another double double; Brink blocked 5 shots. Jackson carried the scoring load when the Sparks lost the lead early in the 4th quarter.

Positives:The Sparks bench has a bunch of streaky scorers and all of them (who got minutes) contributed, especially McDonald. Nurse finally hit a three; Talbot made a jumper. Burrell hit 2 threes to seal the game in the 4th quarter. Jackson made 3 fg in about a 2 minute span.

Negatives: The Sparks could not stop fouling or turning the ball over late in the 3rd quarter. They were up 9 and fouled 4 possessions in a row, while turning the ball over on offense. Both Yueru and Brink set illegal moving screens, yet again. This is the 3rd illegal screen from Brink this season.

In the end, the short handed Aces ran out of gas; they have a stacked starting line-up when healthy but two of their starters are out. The Aces do not have much of a bench and when Plum struggles with her shot, the whole team struggles to score.

The Sparks now head out on the road for 7 games against some of the best teams in the league. They'll probably lose 6 of those unless the Sparks' bench shows up like tonight.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 8:50 pm    Post subject:

Please let's just win this game lol

EDIT - Oh he just said Sunday night... this is a rerun... well I'm not spoiled on the outcome yet so Let's Go Sparks!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2024 7:15 pm    Post subject:

Let's make it two in a row, Sparks!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2024 7:42 pm    Post subject:

I forgot Nneka is on the Seattle Storm. She's clearly taking this game personally lol
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