Last year's WNBA Finals runners-up, the Sun (0-2) are in a transition of sorts, trying to build around offseason acquisition DeWanna Bonner. That has been made more difficult with Jonquel Jones opting to sit out the season and some struggles offensively beyond Bonner and Alyssa Thomas.
The duo combined for 57 points Tuesday, but the other three starters had just 13 in a 94-89 loss to Washington in a rematch of last year's finals. The pair did get some bench help as Connecticut nearly erased all of a 15-point deficit as Natasha Hiedeman had nine points, but Thomas missed a layup with 22.8 seconds left that would have cut the deficit to one.
"I'm super proud of our fight. We fought back, we kept playing ... I can't say it enough," Bonner told the Hartford Courant. "But we'll go back and watch film and see where we can get just a little bit better. ... But we stuck with it. One shot away."
The 11-year veteran and former UConn star has made a quick adjustment to the Sun, scoring 48 points in the first two games, but the Sun are still facing their first 0-3 start since losing their first four games in 2017. Thomas is also averaging 24.0 points, but Brionna Jones is a distant third at 7.5 per contest.
The Sparks (1-1) are looking to get back on track after a poor second half consigned them to a 96-78 defeat to the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night. Brittney Sykes scored 16 points off the bench to lead Los Angeles, but starters Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray each went 4 for 11 from the field and combined for just 18 points.
Chicago's up-tempo and small-ball – the Sky were without center Stefanie Dolson – gave Los Angeles fits as it committed 16 turnovers. That also led to the Sparks allowing the Sky to shoot 54.4 percent, much to Derek Fisher's disappointment.
"Hanging our hat on the defensive end is something that we really want to do as a team more often than we did last season," Fisher told the team's official website. "Great teams commit themselves on that end."
Connecticut swept Los Angeles in last year's semifinals, winning the three games by an average of 19.0 points. The Sparks, though, did win two of the three regular-season meetings.