Sparks roll over injury-depleted Storm in Los Angeles
Without its two top players, Seattle failed to put up much of a fight in a 83-59 loss.
Special to the Times
LOS ANGELES — With its two most influential players not even close to removing their warm-up suits, the Storm sustained one of its worst losses of the year Saturday night.
Sue Bird and Ann Wauters spent their time encouraging their teammates in an 83-59 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center.
Not since a 79-55 defeat to Minnesota on June 6 had the Storm (7-9) lost in such a one-sided fashion.
Wauters, the Storm's leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, missed her second consecutive game with a strained calf. Coach Brian Agler said Wauters was doubtful for Sunday's game against Phoenix at KeyArena.
Bird, who leads the Storm in scoring and shares second place in the WNBA in assists, aggravated her right hip flexor.
"It was recommended to try to get as much as rest as possible so it wouldn't be a long-term issue," Bird said. "If I wake up (Sunday) and feel good, I expect to play."
The Storm might miss a third veteran. Forward Tina Thompson injured her left knee when the Sparks' Nnemkadi Ogwumike rolled into her left leg as both were contending for a loose ball with 7:12 left to play.
Thompson left the court with assistance, hopping on her right foot. She received X-rays after the game but the team made no announcement about her prognosis.
Despite Bird's and Wauters' absences, forward Camille Little would make no excuses for the Storm's play.
"We could've played better basketball," said Little, who led the Storm with 12 points. "We didn't give them any competition. We didn't play well at all."
Los Angeles (12-6) exposed the Storm's problems. The visitors grabbed only one offensive rebound in the first half, shot 36.1 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers that enabled the Sparks to score 18 points.
The hosts took immediate control by making seven of their first eight shots. The Storm narrowed the deficit to 15-11, but made only one basket in the final 5:23 of the first quarter, and the Sparks built a 28-17 lead.
"We could've played a little bit tougher defensively, especially in the first quarter and in the first part of the third quarter," Agler said. "They were just too comfortable offensively in the first quarter.
"But I don't fault our effort. We just didn't have enough weapons."
One weapon was rookie forward Shekinna Stricklen, who made her first start of the season. Stricken finished with 11 points in a season-best 29 minutes.
"She's got good instincts for the game," Agler said. "Obviously, she's got a lot to learn, like most rookies do. But she's a gifted offensive player."
Tanisha Wright tied her season high with eight assists, yet the Sparks' Candace Parker dominated the floor.
Parker scored 17 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and passed for seven assists. Teammate Kristi Toliver scored a game-high 23 points, as five Sparks scored in double figures.
DeLisha Milton-Jones added 15 points. Ogwumike, the former All-American from Stanford, contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds.
|Seattle||17||16||10||16 — 59|
|Los Angeles||28||13||22||20 — 83|