Despite having a competitive fourth quarter effort, the Los Angeles Sparks fell to the Seattle Storm 81-75. This was their fourth game in their first week of the season; these early games revealed that the Sparks must improve on their cohesion.
While their new additions are talented, the communication among them and the veteran Sparks players must be better. Los Angeles was able to defeat teams that also have new additions but fell to teams like Seattle, where many of the players have established relationships.
“They know how to compete with each other, they understand timing and connection, eye contact, things we’re still learning,” said Sparks head coach Derek Fisher.
Center Candace Parker nailed a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, she was one of four Sparks to score in the double digits. Storm forward Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and nine rebounds.
“Every game I try to go in and figure out how best I can help the team,” Parker said. “I think that’s where the assertiveness came from, it’s just trying to get us to be aggressive towards the basket, inside, and definitely in transition.”
Storm guard Jewell Loyd found her stride right after tip-off, scoring five points in the first two minutes of the game. Parker put the Sparks on the scoreboard with a free throw and a three-pointer. The Storm shot well from the perimeter and double-teamed Sparks players. With Loyd leading with 11 points, the Storm was ahead 27-16 going into the second quarter.
Seattle battled the Sparks successfully with a high tempo offense, guard Jordan Canada got points in the paint. They also found points by feeding the ball to center Ezi Magbegor. Sparks guard Brittney Sykes hustled to keep possessions alive, but the Sparks could not land their baskets.
By the half, Stewart had 15 points and Loyd had 11 points. No Sparks players were in the double digits at this point.
Guard Riquna Williams and Parker found shots to whittle away at a 16-point deficit. The Storm kept a strong offense until the final minute of the third quarter. The Sparks began to force turnovers, this closed their deficit to 10 points.
Sparks guard Seimone Augustus made an eight-point run to bring the Sparks within three points of the Storm. Forward Nneka Ogwumike noted how Augustus “instills championship energy.”
“She doesn’t back down and that’s the energy that we need,” Ogwumike said. “I think that cohesiveness is something that we’re developing, especially from a vet like her.”
However, Seattle hit an offensive stride in the last minutes. Canada completed her free throws; Loyd and Stewart returned to the floor to execute the win.
The Sparks trailed throughout the entire game, which can be tough for teammates, according to Parker.
“Our second unit is coming in the Chicago game, this game, the Connecticut game even and doing a good job of bringing us back,” she said. “But then we exert all our effort getting back into the game.”
Fisher is still in the process of creating a plan to divvy up minutes so players remain healthy. This week of games profiled strong performances by guards Te’a Cooper and Brittney Sykes. He wants to continue to “utilize the depth” of the Sparks roster.
“After this first week, we’ll get a chance to take a look at how players performed from an analytical standpoint,” Fisher said. “Being able to start to get an idea of which lineups, even in short sample sizes, have been most effective and how we can start to look at making substitutions at different times.”
The Sparks return to action on Wednesday, August 5 when they play against the Indiana Fever at 7:00PM PST.