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Caitlin Clark’s Long Three Wins the Game for Fever and Buries Sparks

Caitlin Clark was limited to making misses for almost 38 minutes.

It was hardly what the record-breaking, sold-out Los Angeles audience, scattered with Clark jerseys in shades of Iowa and Fever, had come to see.

After only five points, Clark was furious as she saw all seven of her 3-pointers miss the hoop. Then, with 2:24 remaining in the game and the Los Angeles Sparks holding a 3-point lead over the undefeated Indiana Fever, Clark retreated from well outside the 3-point line—33 feet, to be exact—and eventually struck the bottom of the net.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I seriously think every shot I shoot is gonna go in,” Clark stated. “Some nights are absolutely amazing and some nights you struggle to shoot it a little bit, but I want to take those shots at the end of the game. I think it’s a mindset and a confidence that you have to have about yourself.”

Clark’s first make from deep brought on a familiar face as she offered the opposing audience a knowing smile, capping a whole game of unusual deep misses.

She was not finished.

When there was less than a minute remaining and the Fever was now only ahead by two, Clark pulled up from 28 feet once again and swished. The first overall choice turned to the fans once more, grinning and adding a shrug that looked like it belonged on Michael Jordan. With the shot, Clark and the Fever won their first game of the season, 78–73.

Christie Sides, the head coach of the Fever, remarked, “We’ve been so close.” “We just stayed poised.”

Clark would need all of her confidence to take on No. 2 overall pick Cameron Brink in a highly anticipated clash. Although Clark’s performance on Friday was her weakest as a professional to date, she more than made up for it in almost every other area of her game.

“She hit some huge shots but did everything we needed her to do,” Sides stated. “She’s really focused on really helping us out, getting better on the defensive, I’m really proud of her energy.”

For the majority of the first half, Clark struggled to establish a rhythm due to the Sparks’ defense. After hitting 39% from three-point range and 39 percent from the field, the Fever entered the locker room down 11 points.

However, Clark made adjustments in the second half. She continued to shoot and miss, but she also made an impact on the game by pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds, dishing out a team-high eight assists, some of which were spectacular passes that slipped through narrow windows, and collecting a game-high four steals.

Despite her 0–5 start, Clark stated in the postgame that she had felt more at ease in her last few games. Reminding herself that the game is “not all about the scoring” and that she may have other positive effects on it has been beneficial, according to her.

“I thought I played a really good game other than [shooting],” Clark stated. “Whether I was rebounding, finding my teammates, I thought I was really active on defense, so I didn’t let that bother me and that’s something I’m really proud of.”

If Clark managed to make an impression on what was essentially a quiet night, then her teammates carried the most of the scoring. With 17 points and a 50% field goal percentage, Aliyah Boston led the team, followed by Kelsey Mitchell with 18 points and Temi Fagbenle with 17 points from the bench. In the third quarter, Clark’s defense and the Fever’s overall efforts in that area kept the Sparks to 11 points.

Both teams fought to make a run and maintain their lead after the Fever’s 11-0 surge erased the Spark’s 11-point halftime lead. It was obvious that Clark’s passing, defense, and rebounding would not be sufficient as the fourth quarter came to an end and the lead was fluctuating. She would have to score, which is what the large audience had come to watch her accomplish, in order to win.

According to Clark, she was aware that the shots would eventually come.

Regarding her two late threes, Clark remarked, “To be honest, I went to the bench after I was like, ‘I was due, they had to go in.'” “I had missed so many throughout the game. It was time for them to go in.”

In a mere two moments, Clark’s unorthodox style of play was elevated to an early career high point. The event served as a reminder that, although playing in a new league and for a new team, Clark is still capable of putting on a show, as she acknowledged the Los Angeles audience that waited after the buzzer to give her a standing ovation.

Clark remarked, “It’s been a whirlwind,” six games into her WNBA tenure. “This is my job, this is what I love to do, but I never want to lose the fun of the game, and nights like tonight remind me why I love playing basketball.”

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