Despite not having their entire roster, the Los Angeles Sparks have the skill to play together and execute wins. Defending home court has not been a problem for Los Angeles, although they have not played with their entire roster, they are 7-2 in the Staples Center after defeating the defending champions, the Seattle Storm 83-75.
All nine Los Angeles players scored points, the bench poured in 30 points, and five players scored in the double digits.
“We have talked about this Seattle team and how good they are with forcing turnovers,” said Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. “We talked about having the patience and discipline not to squeeze off the first shot they see if it’s an average shot.”
Center Candace Parker led the Sparks with 21 points and forward Nneka Ogwumike earned a double-double with 10 rebounds and 13 points. For the Storm, forward Alysha Clark and guard Sami Whitcomb tied at 16 points, center Mercedes Russell made nine rebounds.
The Sparks forced turnovers on a team known for steals, earning 17 points from 19 turnovers. Although the Storm shot at 47 percent in three pointers, the Sparks bested them by shooting 52 percent from the field.
Both the Storm and the Sparks exchanged baskets early in the first quarter, causing six lead changes. Parker and Sparks guard Chelsea Gray scored while Clark and forward Natasha Howard found shots for Seattle. Maria Vedeeva was subbed in for Parker and made an effective six-point contribution in under four minutes.
“She always comes ready. She’s a hard worker and a great teammate,” Ogwumike said. “I’m very grateful to have her. I love how she’s maturing as a player.”
Seattle soon hit a lull after guard Shavonte Zellous tied the game at 34 midway through the second quarter. Before Seattle scored again, Los Angeles scored six points. Parker picked up steals and Seattle struggled with shooting, allowing the Sparks to enter halftime with a nine-point lead.
“I think we’re really focused in my opinion and trying to make sure that they weren’t getting offensive rebounds,” said Sparks guard Alexis Jones. “We did a pretty good job of stopping them in transition.”
The Sparks continued to be dominant, Parker and Ogwumike created a 6-2 run, two minutes later, the Sparks were up by 17 points. Vadeeva was a key contributor, scoring eight points in the third quarter alone while Russell, Howard and Langhorne worked to keep up. Vadeeva ultimately scored 14 points.
“We did our part in the defensive end in the first quarter, but then we kind of took a back seat,” Howard said. “We just need to get back, get focused and just regroup with ourselves with each other.”
Guard Marina Mabrey was the Spark’s final act. She made shots to contest three-pointers from Clark and guard Sami Whitcomb along with shots from the floor form Howard, Russell and guard Jewell Loyd.
“When you play a team like this you have to bring it all four quarters,” said Storm guard Jordin Canada. “I’m proud with how we bounced back in the second half overall, but that first half really hurt us.”