‘I was due’: Caitlin Clark leads Indiana Fever past Sparks to first win of season

Caitlin Clark had 11 points and 10 rebounds for her first WNBA double-double and the Indiana Fever defeated Los Angeles 78-73 on Friday night, snapping a season-opening five-game skid in front of a Sparks-record crowd of 19,103, including several Hollywood stars.

“The first one feels really good,” said Clark, who also had eight assists.

Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana (1-5) with 18 points and Aliyah Boston and Temi Fagbenle had 17 each.

Clark’s rebounds were a career high. She missed her first seven three-point attempts, but finally made one of her signature deep threes with 2:27 left in the game, prompting an explosion of cheers and applause. A giddy Clark actor high-fiving and Iowa native Ashton Kutcher sit courtside.

“That’s a fellow Hawkeye, someone who has been very supportive of me throughout my college career,” she said. “He encouraged me the whole game.”

The game featured the youth and future of the WNBA, with No. 1 draft pick Clark playing against No. 2 pick Cameron Brink and fourth selection Rickea Jackson of the Sparks.

“They are making a huge impact in our league,” Fever coach Christie Sides said before the game.

Brink had 15 points and nine rebounds and Jackson added a career-high 16 points off the bench for the Sparks (1-3). Dearica Hamby had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Jason Sudeikis, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, USC star JuJu Watkins, along with teammate Rayah Marshall and coach Lindsay Gottlieb, were among the sold-out home crowd for the first time of the Sparks game at Crypto.com Arena this season.

“The crowd was absolutely amazing, especially there at the end,” Clark said. “They were interested in it, they were invested in it.”

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) greets actor Ashton Kutcher after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter Friday evening. Photo: Ashley Landis/AP

After trailing by 11 points early in the game, Boston, Fagbenle and Mitchell dominated the fourth quarter, with Mitchell hitting back-to-back three-pointers.

Brink made a three-pointer and Lexie Brown scored to pull the Sparks within 73-71. But Clark answered with her second deep three-pointer with about 40 seconds left and the crowd roared again as Indiana stayed ahead, 76-71.

“I had to, like they had to go in,” said Clark, who was 4 of 14 from the field, 2 of 9 on 3-point attempts. “I had missed so many throughout the game.”

The Fever were just 7 of 25 from long range; the Sparks also struggled, going 5 of 24.

The Sparks played their first two home games in Long Beach, but with Clark and the Fever in town, the game was moved to downtown Los Angeles.

Trailing 45-34, the Fever opened the third quarter on a 16-3 run to lead 50-48. Fagbenle and Boston combined to score all of Indiana’s points, with Fagbenle’s 3-pointer capping the spurt. Clark didn’t score, but she came up with a big steal at midcourt and after she missed, Boston scored.

“She was working on our offense. She is learning her system and her players,” Sides said of Clark. “She hit some huge shots and did everything we expected her to do.”

The teams meet again on Tuesday in Indianapolis.