Brittney Sykes scored 17 points leading four players in double figures as the Los Angeles Sparks kept their WNBA playoff hopes alive with a 74-68 victory over Atlanta Dream in College Park, Georgia on Thursday night.
Nneka Ogwumike added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles (12-19), while Te’a Cooper scored 14 points and Nia Coffey came off the bench with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Sparks rank ninth, just half a game behind eighth-place Washington. They will need the Mystics to lose at home Friday night to New York or they will be eliminated from playoff consideration. Washington owns the first tiebreaker after winning the regular season series, 2-1.
MVP candidate Tiffany Hayes led all scorers with 25 points for the Mystics, but she didn’t get enough help.
Courtney Williams added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while reserve Odyssey Sims went for 11 points. However, Atlanta (8-23) made just 38.1 percent of his field goal attempts, including just 5 of 18 on 3s.
Leading 60-58 with 4:39 left after Williams hit a 20-foot ball, Los Angeles went 8-2. Ogwumike had a long-range two-point shot, layup and free-kick on the streak that put the scoreboard 68-60 with 50.4 seconds to go.
Atlanta got off to a fast start, establishing a 13-6 lead just over five minutes into the game on a three-point play by Hayes. But Los Angeles fought back, cutting the deficit to 21-20 after a quarter when Arella Guirantes hit a jump shot with 5.4 seconds left.
The Sparks cracked down on defense in the second quarter, limiting the dream to 10 points. They started the period on a 12-2 streak that gave them a 32-23 lead over Coffey’s transition cube and took a 34-31 lead by the break.
Los Angeles continued to stop defensively in the first half of the third quarter, pushing the margin back to 49-41 when Coffey hit a long 3-pointer at the 2:33 mark. But Atlanta rallied, slashing the margin to 53-49 in the fourth quarter.