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Sabrina Ionescu has played again and again for the New York Liberty this season, so it’s no surprise when she does it again Wednesday night in their most important game. After a 20-point comeback, she dragged them across the finish line in a 64-61 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks.

After scoring just eight points in the first quarter and trailing by 20 early in the second, the Liberty was in trouble. But they slowly got back into the game as the night went on, thanks in large part to their defense, which allowed the Sparks to score just 37 points in the final three quarters.

Still, despite all their work, they were still three points behind with just over two minutes left. That’s when Ionescu took over. Taking over from Natasha Howard, she stepped on Olivia Nelson-Odda and drove to the rim for a tough reverse layup and foul.

She missed free throws that could have tied the game, but made up for her loss with two free throws in short order to put the Liberty ahead. She was then fouled on a 3-pointer, making two of three free throws to give the Liberty a three-point lead with 34.6 seconds left.

Even so, she’s not done yet. The Liberty needed another good game from Ionescu after Jordin Canada pulled the Sparks to within one with two free throws. She delivered by melting nearly the entire shooting clock, then sealed the win on Katie Lou Samuelson’s short jumper.

Ionescu wasn’t the most productive — no one on the Liberty did that as they shot 31.5 percent from the field, the worst shooting performance by any team since 2019 — but she ended up with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.

Along the way, she scored the final eight points for the Liberty, nearly matching the Sparks’ fourth-quarter total. This season, Ionescu is now averaging 3.1 key points per game, third in the league behind only Skylar Deakins-Smith and Brianna Stewart. Ionescu is tied with Stewart for the league lead in fourth-quarter scoring at 5.5 points per game.

Thanks to Ionescu’s latest heroics, the Liberty won for the third time in a row and beat the Sparks for the second time in a row in a season series and tiebreaker between the two clubs. Now 13-18 on the season, the Liberty is eighth with five games remaining — all of which are against teams above or behind them in the standings.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the Liberty controls their fate to a playoff berth — unthinkable just a few months after their historically poor 1-7 start.





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