WNBA: Sparks drop season opener to Storm, 61-86


Editor’s Note: Though we’re a Los Angeles Clippers basketball site, because ball is life (it definitely is), we’ve decided to add general coverage of Los Angeles’ WNBA Los Angeles Sparks, in addition to daily Clippers updates. Hope you learn something new! – TM

It was a tale of two halves for the Los Angeles Sparks as they dropped their season opener to Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm, 61-86.

Opening the game, the Sparks managed to go toe to toe with a talented Storm team, never trailing by more than two points in the first quarter. In the second quarter, things remained the same despite the Sparks shooting 26% from the field.

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  • In the second half, things would take a turn for the worse for Los Angeles as the Storm would find their stride offensively as the opposite happened to the Sparks — the Storm, led by off-season acquisition Renee Montgomery’s 11 points (scored 19 total in 17 minutes of play) off the bench, shot 55% from the field in the half while the Sparks shot 31%. Outside of Alana Beard’s 10 second-half points, the other starters failed to surpass the three-point mark, including an 0-for-5 effort in the half from Farhiya Adbi and Jantel Lavender.

    With the Storm being a year removed from finishing bottom-three in defensive rating, the lack of consistent scoring from the Sparks comes as a surprise to few as they entered the opener without three of their top five scorer’s from the previous season.

    The biggest loss is that of former league MVP Candace Parker, who’ll sit out the beginning of the WNBA season to rest. Last season, Parker averaged a team-high 19.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.

    The other losses include Nneka Ogwumike, the 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year, out with a left ankle injury, and guard Kristi Tolliver, who will miss the beginning of the WNBA season as she continues playing in the EuroBasketball tournament for Slovakia.

    “Our main goal is that L.A. has to find an identity,” said Ogwumike to ESPNW mid-May about the team following the announcement of Parker’s resting. “That’s one thing we struggle with year to year. I think this will be the year where we finally nail it down.”

    Finding that identity will be key for first year Sparks head coach Brian Agler, who coached the Seattle Storm to a championship in 2010. When Ogwumike and Tolliver are healthy, the two, along with Alana Beard, who led the team in scoring tonight with 20 points, And when Parker returns — if she decides to return — players will all drop in responsibility to accommodate the needs of the superstar.

    For the victorious Seattle Storm,center Crystal Langhorne’s 18-point, 9-rebound outing led the team. Guard Sue Bird finished with 11 points and 5 assists, and off the bench, Alysha Clark shot 4-of-4 from the field in 18 minutes for 11 points.

    Top pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Jewell Loyd, finished with 7 points on 2-of-10 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in her league debut. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the no.3 overall pick in the 2015 draft (acquired in a trade that sent Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen to the Connecticut Sun) played 4:56 in her debut.

    Sparks’ next game: vs. Seattle  – June 14, 2:00 p.m.