L.A. completes 5-game sweep of Storm games
Kristi Toliver score 22 points to help the Los Angeles Sparks run away with an 82-71 win over the Seattle Storm.
Seattle Times staff reporter
With Storm point guard Sue Bird at home recovering from stomach flu, her teammates put on a show at KeyArena.
But spotty defense and periodic offense against Los Angeles couldn't counter Sparks guard Kristi Toliver. Her growing shooting consistency led her to hit 9 of 11 shots and score 22 points in an 82-71 victory.
The Sparks (16-6) swept the five-game regular-season series with the Storm (10-11). All were without three-time MVP Lauren Jackson due to her Australian Olympic commitments. She's expected Monday night but will not play for the Storm's nationally televised game against Minnesota on Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, we played with 7 ½ players," said Tina Thompson, who played five minutes in the first half. She returned Thursday from a knee sprain but wasn't used as the deficit grew.
"I'm OK with our effort," Thompson said. "Considering for 35 minutes they (Storm) played with seven players and two were post players against a team that has about six post players. I think our effort was great and we played hard."
Tanisha Wright, who ran the point in place of Bird, took the blame. Wright dueled with Toliver, but the deft three-point shooter still found spots within the defense to nail shots. And she shot in Wright's face, too.
The Sparks opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run to increase their lead to 16 points.
But Wright scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half. The effort helped cut Seattle's deficit to 69-61 after a three-pointer by rookie Shekinna Stricklen. Toliver later made a layin and jumper to bump the lead back to double digits.
"I let her get too comfortable," said Wright, who had four assists. "(But) in the second half, we didn't come out with the aggression that we needed to come out with. They jumped on it and from there it was a fight; it was a battle. We fought. We just didn't have enough gas in the tank to take it over."
It was L.A.'s first game after the WNBA's hiatus for the London Olympic Games. It gave them a week to prepare while the Storm had a day. Still, without Bird and Jackson in the rotation, it's the same lineup that has been practicing together the entire break.
And without Ann Wauters (Achilles) and Thompson (knee), it was the same team that lost to the Sparks 83-59 before the break.
You could tell the improved chemistry in the first half, only Toliver always had an answer.
"I don't even want to talk about us being short-handed because that disrespects the people in the locker room," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "My focus is more on who played and I thought our effort was good."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans
|Los Angeles||20||20||27||15 — 82|
|Seattle||22||16||17||16 — 71|