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Sparks could use a little luck in Las Vegas

A win is a win is a win.

And a loss is a loss is a loss.

The Sparks don’t get extra credit for near-comebacks or for giving themselves looks to win or tie with the clock ticking down.

It makes no difference in the WNBA standings that if the ball bounced had another way once or twice or four times, that L.A. might not be trying to fend off a fifth consecutive loss in Monday’s game in Las Vegas against the surging hot Aces.

Or that three of the Sparks’ four losses so far have come by a combined eight points.

In their 77-75 road loss against a much-improved Atlanta Dream team, they got two cracks at tying the game, but neither Chiney Ogwumike nor Nneka Ogwumike’s shots fell.

In their 87-84 home-opening loss to the otherwise winless Minnesota Lynx, the Sparks gave up a late layup and then failed to set up a good look at a 3-pointer – though Jordin Canada did get off a last-gasp 24-footer that missed.

And in their most recent loss, 83-80, on Friday in Seattle, the Sparks erased almost all of an 18-point deficit and had an opportunity to tie that one too when their final chaotic possession ended with Nneka Ogwumike in the corner, but her 3-pointer glanced off the rim as time expired and the Sparks’ fourth consecutive loss dropped them to 2-4, with 30 games remaining.

They’ll need some bounces to go their way Monday if they want to give themselves a chance again against the Aces (7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet and Facebook) in Liz Cambage’s first game against her former team.

Las Vegas’ new coach Becky Hammon – in her first head coaching role, the longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant is joined on the sideline by the longtime Clippers assistant Natalie Nakase – has the Aces steamrolling.

The Aces sit atop the WNBA standings at 6-1 and entered Sunday leading the league in a host of other areas: They’re averaging 91.6 points per 40-minute game, on pace for the most in the league since the Phoenix Mercury’s 93.9 per-game average in 2010.

Hammon’s team – which overwhelmed Phoenix with a franchise-best 38-point third quarter in a 100-80 victory Saturday – is shooting 47.5% from the field and 39.9 from 3-point range.

They’re defending too, with a league-best 5.6 blocks per game. And they’re averaging just 13.1 turnovers per game – a league low.

What’s more: The Aces are especially good out of the gate, averaging a league-best 25 points per first quarter, when they’re outscoring opponents by 5.1 points.

The Sparks, meanwhile, have made starting slowly a habit, averaging just 17.5 points in first-quarter play, when they’re also getting outscored by a league-worst 5.8 points.

The Sparks do have a proclivity for comebacks – they’re outscoring opponents in the final three quarters – but playing from behind against Hammon’s Aces seems like a bad bet.

SPARKS (2-4) at ACES (6-1)

When: Monday, 7 p.m.

Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena, Las Vegas

TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Facebook



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