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Nneka Ogwumike makes steal to key Sparks' 70-69 comeback win over Sun

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Kristi Toliver scores a three-pointer in the final seconds to lift the Sparks to a 70-69 win over Connecticut
Sparks' Nneka Ogwumike again has upper hand in rivalry with her sister Chiney of Connecticut as L.A. wins
Sparks' Kristi Toliver is 0 for 6 before making big shot to lift Sparks to victory over the Connecticut Sun

Chiney Ogwumike was filled with mixed emotions when she made her way to the Sparks' locker room to meet up with older sister Nneka Ogwumike.

She's always happy to see her sister, but this loss will sting for a while.

Nneka Ogwumike stole an inbounds pass and set up Kristi Toliver for the game-winning three-point shot with 9.6 seconds left to give the Sparks a 70-69 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Sunday at Staples Center.

Toliver's first field goal of the game was the winner after the Sun's Renee Montgomery missed a jump shot on the final possession. It capped a comeback from six points down with 29 seconds left.

It also gave Nneka Ogwumike a 2-0 head-to-head record against her sister Chiney. The No. 1 picks of the 2012 and 2014 WNBA drafts had not played against each other until this season.

"It's not easy," Nneka Ogwumike said. "Looking at her outside of her as a sibling, she's a hard defensive assignment. She rebounds well. She finishes well, and she's a great defender. Going out there and playing against her, it's fun to know that we've both succeeded as far as we've gone, but we have to do what we can to stop" each other.

The Sparks (13-15) were led by Alana Beard's 18 points, and Nneka Ogwumike's 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Sparks trailed 68-62 before Beard made a three-point shot, and Candace Parker converted a hook shot in the paint to cut the Suns' lead to 69-67. Then Nneka Ogwumike stole Alyssa Thomas' pass near the Sparks' bench.

Chiney Ogwumike led the Sun (11-18) with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Katie Douglas had 15 points. Chiney Ogwumike scored 17 points in the second half, the last on a third-chance putback to give Connecticut a 64-60 lead.

"It is really painful," Chiney Ogwumike said of the loss. "But at the same time, we play a lot of young players, and I guess in order to win as a team and to deserve the wins, you have to go through these pains."

Parker, who returned from a strained left knee that kept her out the previous two games, had nine points, four rebounds and four steals.

Toliver was 0 for 6 from the field before her final shot.

"For me it's not about what happened," Toliver said. "It's about what you can make happen in the moment. I knew I was in there for a reason, and that's to make a play. I wasn't down about the game."

Sparks guard Armintie Herrington left the game 1:26 into the third quarter because of an apparent leg injury and did not return, but a team official said Herrington was OK.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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