LOS ANGELES — In a rarity, the 2-2 Los Angeles Sparks have a back-to-back situation. After defeating the Mercury in overtime on a Friday night road game, they turn right back around home to Crypto Dot Com Arena as they play the Seattle Storm on Saturday night in another Commissioners Cup game.
These aren’t your big sister’s Seattle Storm team.
Sue Bird retired. Breanna Stewart left Seattle to go to New York. Most of what identified the championship Storm teams are gone.
Jewell Loyd is still there, though. In fact, she leads the league in scoring at the moment with 26.0 points per game. She’s always been a dangerous offensive player and she’s shooting more than she’s ever had.
Also still there is fourth-year player Ezi Magbegor. She’s currently averaging a double-double at 11.3 points and 10.3 rebounds (4th in the league in that department) as well as doing the deeds defensively at 1.7 blocks and 2.3 steals per game. She’s showing what she’s capable of in an increased role.
The rest of the starting line-up is filled by free agent pick-up Kia Nurse (who is returning from a devastating ACL injury), fifth-year vet Yvonne Turner, and Storm mainstay Mercedes Russell. Sami Whitcomb has returned after two years with the New York Liberty and first-round pick Jordan Horston is getting minutes off the bench as well.
While a capable team, the Storm are off to an 0-3 start. They were picked apart by Vegas, which resulted in a 41-point loss. Seattle lost a close one to Dallas after a Satou Sabally putback lay-up. And then the Liberty beat them in their visit to Seattle as their old friend, Breanna Stewart, put in 25 points and 11 boards against them.
They will try to get their first win against a Sparks team that may be a bit tired after winning in Phoenix on Friday night. In an overtime game, no less.
Nneka Ogwumike has been a consistent scorer for the Sparks as she leads the team with 18.0 points per game. Lexie Brown scored 26 against Phoenix on Friday; can she continue her hot shooting? Can Jordin Canada keep it up on both ends of the floor? Can the Sparks continue to harass teams on defense (they lead the league at forcing 18.5 turnovers)?
It’s quite an opportunity for the Sparks to get a W as they play a team that’s still seeking for their first victory. But it’s also a chance for the Storm to catch what could be a fatigued Sparks team. We’ll see whose will is stronger on Saturday night in Los Angeles.