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Ionescu and Jones lead New York to 93-80 win over Los Angeles

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NEW YORK (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu scored 31 points and Jonquel Jones added 22 to help the New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks 93-80 on Thursday night.

The Sparks were playing their first game since they lost star rookie Cameron Brink to an ACL tear in her left knee.

The Liberty (13-3) led 60-54 with 2:58 left in the third quarter before Ionescu and Jones combined to score the first 11 points of a 13-0 run to give New York a double-digit cushion. Ionescu got it started with consecutive 3-pointers and Jones added one. Ionescu then found Jones for an easy layin on the next possession.

“We talked about it right before the timeout understanding we had to go in and make a push and we did that,” Ionescu said. “Got stops defensively and got great looks offensively. Transition offense is one of our best offenses. J had some big shots and went on a really big run there and that helped us to win the game.”

Zia Cooke hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds left in the quarter to end the drought for the Sparks (4-12).

Los Angeles chipped away at the lead and only trailed 82-76 with 2:56 left before consecutive 3-pointers by New York put the game away.

Aari McDonald scored 15 points and Cooke added 13 to lead the Sparks.

New York was missing guard Betnijah Laney-Hamilton who has been bothered by a right knee issue the last few days. Coach Sandy Brondello said that Laney-Hamilton had soreness as well as swelling and discomfort after the team’s red-eye flight back from Phoenix on Tuesday night.

The Liberty are still playing without Nyara Sabally (back) and Courtney Vandersloot (personal).

New York held a moment of silence before the game for Vandersloot’s mom Jan, who died over the weekend, according to the team.

She had been diagnosed with advanced multiple myeloma in July 2022.

“We’re a family you know. As much as we love basketball, we understand it’s a business,” said Jones, who also had eight assists and seven rebounds. “It makes you put things in perspective and there are a lot of other things going on in life. We want to support her.”

Neither team got off to a great start offensively and the game was tied at 33 with just over 3 minutes left in the first half before the Liberty closed the second quarter with a 10-3 run.

Jones had the first five points of the spurt and Breanna Stewart had a turnaround shot on the baseline just before the half ended to make it 43-36.

The teams will play again on Saturday.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer

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