Arguably the hottest team in the WNBA right now, the Dallas Wings defeated the Los Angeles Sparks, 98-84, after losing the previous three matchups. The win streak reaches its highest point of the season at five.
With the victory, the Wings maintained the second-best home record (8-2) and improved their overall record to 13-9, good for fourth place in the WNBA. The five-game win streak also ties the Wings' longest streak since they relocated to Dallas in 2016.
Dallas boasted three 20+ point scorers and it started with Natasha Howard who led with 28 points on 64% true shooting (60% FG, 50% 3PT). The 6-2 forward managed to collect 11 rebounds, two assists, and four steals. When I asked how it feels knowing the opponent doesn’t have an answer for her on both ends of the court, Howard’s answer was the same as it's been all season.
Flashing a smile that could light up the darkest of rooms, she said she was just playing her game the way she’s always known to.
“I’ve been playing like this for 10 years now. I just read and react based on my defender, and how they’re guarding me. Just being in the right spots for my teammates. This is me.”
In her last five games, Howard is tied for fourth in the W in steals per game (2), and nine times out of ten, they’re generated via quick reactions and active hands when assessing a driver or a post player who isn’t as agile.
To boot, she’s eighth in the W in points (20.2) and third in rebounds (9.3) in the last 10 games. All in all, Howard is a vital component of this team’s overall process.
In my season preview, I wrote about the significance of acquiring a player like Howard:
All-Star forward Satou Sabally dropped 26 points on a scorching 71.4 true shooting percentage while finding the time to collect 11 rebounds and six assists. Sabally has five games this season with 15-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, and five-plus assists. Only four players have had more over a full WNBA season, per Across The Timeline. Sabally and Howard also became the first pair of teammates in WNBA history to each have 25+ points and 11+ rebounds in the same game.
I was watching Wings-Sparks. It's impressive how many ways an offense can attack playing through Satou Sabally, who had 26 points using 8 play types (!!), getting to the rim, taking pull-ups, and doing dirty work.— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) July 23, 2023
Satou attacked out of post-ups, Horns sets, handoffs, inverted… pic.twitter.com/WMH7nLEgCC
In a video shared by NBA reporter Grant Afseth, Sabally’s scoring versatility is showcased for all to enjoy. Truly a cerebral threat, opposing defenses have had their hands full with her because she’s not a one-trick pony, she is the Unicorn.
The New Big 3 Is Here
Arike Ogubowale finished 25 points on a 60 percent true shooting clip, adding five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. At the end of the second quarter, Ogunbowale had six points. Like Goku, Ogunbowale was on fire in the second half, pouring in 19 points and leading her team to victory when they needed her production most.
“Multiple players stepped up. When you have a team like that, great things will happen,” said Wings head coach Latricia Trammell. She’s right.
Per Across The Timeline, Howard (28 points), Sabally (26 points), and Ogunbowale (25 points) scored 79 of Dallas’ 98 points in the game, approximately 80% of the overall total. They became the second trio in WNBA history to score at least 25 points in the same game. In addition, four players had at least five assists. Veteran guard Odyssey Sims had six of her own in just 12 minutes of play.
This season has been exceptional for Dallas for a myriad of reasons. One resounding revelation is that star guard Arike Ogunbowale is surrounded by teammates that not only accentuate her talents, but they make sense fit-wise as one band with one sound. In years past, this was far from the truth. With star talent down the roster, it’s fair to say that the question of “who is the team’s best player” is a game of hot potato in every sense.
Ogunbowale, Howard, and Sabally all own stretches of dominance this season and come playoff time, it will be relied on as there are only five defenders on the court. Double teaming one of them means either the other two are open or 6-7 center Teaira McCowan is facing single coverage. Truly a pick-your-poison scenario that I am blessed to not have to worry about preparing for.
The Connecticut Sun will be in town on Tuesday for the first time since last year’s playoff series that saw the Sun finish on top.