It couldn’t have started any better for the Sparks… and it couldn’t have ended any worse. The Seattle Storm, once down by 21 to Los Angeles, kept chipping away and eventually came back to win, 66-63.
Like I said, it couldn’t have started any better. The Storm would either miss a shot or turn the ball over against the vaunted Sparks defense. Meanwhile, it seemed like Los Angeles couldn’t miss. The debuting Azurá Stevens topped off the 19-2 start with a jumper.
Jordin Canada would make it a 27-6 game with her three-pointer. Unfortunately, that’s when the Sparks peaked in this contest.
Seattle intensified their defense. And when they were a little relaxed, the Sparks would be a little reckless with their passes. It was uncharacteristic because the Sparks would take care of the ball as much as they would take it away from their opponents. Jewell Loyd would get on track. Ezi Magbegor made some lay-ups. Little-used Ivana Dojkić made five straight points. And prized rookie Jordan Horston did a lot of dirty work for some buckets. Stevens would foul Loyd on a three-point attempt near the end of the half. After Jewell’s three foul shots, the Sparks lead was cut down to 38-35.
Both teams were sort of stuck in the mud in the third quarter with everyone having difficulty scoring. Nneka Ogwumike made the first Sparks field goal in the third with under two minutes left to go! Jewell Loyd made another three and Seattle took a 52-48 lead entering the fourth.
A Lexie Brown three would cut the Seattle deficit to 63-60. We saw both teams struggle to put the ball in the basket. The Storm led, 66-63, with the Sparks taking possession with 20 seconds left. Nneka Ogwumike’s reverse lay-up was altered, the Sparks didn’t foul when they saw Loyd ahead of the pack (which would’ve been called a “clear path” foul), and the Storm finally got their first win of the season.
It was a tough game. The Storm defense was really up to the challenge against the Sparks. And L.A.’s passing was less than ideal in some possessions. The Sparks turned the ball over 23 times in this game and, sometimes, that’s the entire story of the game. However, the Storm got into transition and outscored the Sparks in fast break points, 15-2. And Seattle also made it more of a paint game compared to the game on Friday; Storm outscored the Sparks in paint points, 34-32.
Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird were certainly loving it.
The newly-minted WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 22 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and three steals. Lexie Brown continues to get buckets; she ended with 15 points.
Jewell Loyd didn’t shoot well from the field (5 for 18, .278) but she went to the line and converted 13 of 14 on the way to 25 points. Jordan Horston was huge as she scored 14 points. And the versatile Ezi Magbegor had 13 points and 10 boards.
The 3-3 Sparks will go back home for Friday as they take on the 5-3 Chicago Sky. Didn’t feel great to be the first team to lose to the Seattle Storm but all they can do is take the lessons learned from this game and move on. It is a long season, after all.