Los Angeles’ shrewd off-season recruiting has paid instant dividends with the Sparks beating defending champions Chicago 98-91 in their WNBA season-opener.
Jordin Canada had 21 points and eight assists in her LA debut while Nneka Ogwumike added 19 points.
Ogwumike made a jumper in the lane with 51.5 seconds left to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 94-91, and she deflected a pass at the other end that led to two free throws by Canada.
The Sky turned it over again and Canada sealed it with two more free throws.
Canada also made three key free throws to tie it at 88 with 1.5 seconds left in regulation after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Key off-season acquisition Liz Cambage added 12 points in 24 minutes for the Sparks. Lexie Brown and Chennedy Carter also scored 12 points apiece.
Dana Evans scored a career-high 24 points in her debut with Chicago. Candace Parker had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists, but also six turnovers.
In Phoenix, Dearica Hamby scored 24 points as the Las Vegas Aces won in Becky Hammon’s first game as coach, beating the short-handed Phoenix Mercury 106-88.
Phoenix were without Brittney Griner as she nears the three-month mark of her detention in Russia with no timetable for her release.
Hammon replaced Bill Laimbeer with the Aces after serving as an assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs since 2014.
Kelsey Plum added 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Seattle, and Jackie Young also had 20 points.
Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 12 of her 25 points in the third quarter for Phoenix. Diana Taurasi was held to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.
The Seattle Storm defeated the Minnesota Lynx 97-74, with Jewell Loyd scoring 17 points.
Sue Bird added 11 points and nine assists in what could be her final season.
The 41-year-old Bird started her 19th season playing for Seattle in her 550th game. She made a three 3-pointers and spent most of the fourth quarter as a spectator after Seattle outscored Minnesota 34-14 in the third quarter.
In Washington, the Mystics defeated Indiana 84-70.