With stars sitting this one out, Storm loses exhibition game to Los Angeles
The Storm lost to the Los Angeles Sparks, 71-66, in an exhibition game Tuesday in Carson, Calif. Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Katie Smith didn't play for the Storm.
Special to The Seattle Times
Exhibition, Tulsa @ Storm, 2 p.m.
CARSON, Calif. — For the Storm, having one last exhibition game is a simultaneous blessing and curse.
At the very least — yet at the very most — the Storm will have one more chance to correct the mistakes from Wednesday's 71-66 exhibition loss to the Los Angeles Sparks in front of 3,212 fans at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
"We've only had one day when everybody's been on the court," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "That was the Tuesday of the first week of practice. Other than that, people have had family issues and we've held a couple of people out early.
"At this point in training camp, I don't think we're very good. In some areas, we got exposed."
The Storm played without Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Katie Smith, who sat on the bench the entire game. Smith wore a plastic knee-high rehabilitation boot on her left foot.
Agler said before the game that he would rest Bird and Smith. Bird has back spasms and Smith has Achilles tendinitis, Agler said.
Jackson, whom Agler said would start, was replaced by Ashley Robinson at center in the lineup at the last minute.
"This has really been the first day that Lauren's been out," Agler said. "She's been practicing pretty well. Sue practiced pretty well the for first two or three days, then (her back) started getting tighter."
So what would have happened had all three played?
"Probably the same outcome," Agler said.
Los Angeles used its defense to take early control and ignite its transition game. The Sparks forced 14 turnovers in the first half, used them to score 13 points and kept the Storm from establishing any presence inside.
As a result, the Storm missed 19 of 27 shots from the floor in the first half.
The Sparks made 15 of their first 32 and built a 43-25 lead one minute into the second half.
"I thought L.A. was physically tougher and mentally tougher than we were," Agler said. "In the first half, it looked like our transition defense was not very good and our one-on-one defense was not very good."
The Sparks went to the free-throw line 27 times in the game compared to the Storm's 14 trips. The difference reinforced Agler's analysis.
"That tells me we're not finishing strong at the rim and our defense (is) fouling too much," Agler said. "I just don't think we had that edge that we needed to have."
Nevertheless, the Storm rallied to move ahead, 64-63, on Tanisha Wright's fadeaway jumper with 3:20 to play. But the Storm scored only two more points, on free throws.
"There's a certain way that we have to play, a certain expectation," Agler said. "I don't think we came close to meeting that expectation."
Le'coe Willingham led the Storm with 14 points. Belinda Snell had 12 points off the bench before twisting her left ankle with 3:40 remaining. Camille Little scored 10. The Sparks' Candace Parker led all scorers with 17 points.
Agler said he plans to take a different approach in the Storm's final exhibition at KeyArena against Tulsa on Sunday, before the defending WNBA champions begin their 12th season June 4 at home against Phoenix.
"I would expect we'd play everybody but we're getting too close to the season, now," Agler said. "We have to try in some way to get ready for our opening day."
Sparks 71, Storm 66
SEATTLE (66) — Willingham 5-10 2-2 14, Little 4-7 1-2 10, Robinson 1-2 1-1 3, Cash 3-9 2-2 8, Wright 4-13 0-0 9, Snell 4-8 1-1 12, Zoll 1-3 0-0 2, Ibekwe 1-7 2-4 4, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Monroe 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 24-62 11-14 66.
LOS ANGELES (71) — Quinn 1-3 2-2 4, Parker 4-5 8-8 17, Milton-Jones 4-8 0-0 8, Toliver 3-10 0-0 7, Penicheiro 2-2 0-0 5, Lavender 4-7 0-0 8, O'Hea 0-3 0-0 0, Hoffman 2-7 5-6 9, Lacy 2-8 5-9 9, Pringle 2-2 0-0 4, Paris 0-2 0-2 0, Wisdom-Hylton 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-59 20-27 71.
Halftime — Los Angeles 41-25. Rebounds — Seattle 19 (Cash 6), Los Angeles 34 (O'Hea, Lacy 6). Fouled out — None. Assists — Seattle 14 (Wright 7), Los Angeles 12 (Penicheiro 4). Total fouls — Seattle 23, Los Angeles 19. A — 3,212 (Carson, Calif.).
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