Sparks knock off Storm, 70-56
Playing without leading scorer Camille Little, Seattle is unable to match up well with the Sparks’ size down low in a 70-56 loss.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Chicago @ Storm, 7 p.m., KONG
In a matchup of two teams desperate for wins, Seattle was behind before the opening tip on Thursday.
The Storm played without its leading scorer, forward Camille Little, who missed her first game since 2011 to attend the funeral of her grandfather. Los Angeles’ bigger lineup took advantage of Seattle being without its veteran post by dominating inside in a 70-56 win at KeyArena.
Seattle’s 56 points in the game were the fewest of the season. The previous low was 57 in an eight-point loss in Los Angeles on June 24.
“We for sure missed Camille, she’s a presence for us in the post and offensively she’s been playing well for us the past couple of weeks,” Storm guard Tanisha Wright said. “But we have enough here where a game like that shouldn’t happen.”
With the score tied at 12, Seattle went on a scoring drought that lasted more than five minutes across two quarters in the first half. L.A. used the time to put together an 8-0 run for a 20-12 lead with 8:13 left before the break.
The Sparks outscored the Storm, 24-10, in the second quarter to take a 40-22 lead into halftime.
L.A. was 9 for 10 inside the paint, outscoring the Storm 18-8 inside in the second quarter. The Sparks’ defense forced Seattle into 0-for-4 shooting from three-point range and didn’t commit a foul in the second quarter.
The trend continued in the second half, with the Sparks (7-9) never allowing Seattle (7-12) to get within single digits.
“It seems like a blur now,” Storm guard Sue Bird said of the second quarter. “They were just capitalizing on a lot of different things whether it was turnovers, offensive rebounds, getting loose balls. It seemed like every time we didn’t take care of something, they were able to score on it. They got that lead pretty much that way.”
Rookie post Angel Robinson replaced Little in the lineup. Although Robinson is 6 feet 5, she lacked the experience to help teammate Crystal Langhorne (6-2) duel with Sparks All-Stars Candace Parker (6-4) and Nneka Ogwumike (6-2) and forward Jantel Lavender (6-4).
Ogwumike led the Sparks with 21 points. It was her fifth straight game scoring 20 points or more. Parker added 17 points with 10 rebounds while Lavender finished with 11 points. L.A. outscored Seattle, 36-26, in the paint overall.
“I really have to shake it off,” said Robinson, who was scoreless with two rebounds in 19 minutes. Langhorne led the Storm with 19 points and eight rebounds.
“That’s a difficult team to guard,” Robinson continued. “But I don’t think we had the intensity to outwork them. It wasn’t the size that mattered, it was the hustle, and I don’t know what happened. We have to shake this off.”
The Storm is 0-3 against the Sparks this season. L.A. has won four of its past six games to stay ahead of Seattle in the Western Conference standings and in the playoff picture.
Seattle hosts Chicago (8-9) on Saturday at KeyArena. Little is expected to return.
“That’s the best I’ve seen them (L.A.) play,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “I wish we would have competed a little bit tougher against them.”
• Wright returned to the starting lineup on Thursday. She missed her past five games due to a right knee bruise. Wright was scoreless in 23 minutes of play.
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