The Sparks battled back from a 17-point hole, but ultimately fell to the Seattle Storm, 81-75. Candace Parker led Los Angeles with her second consecutive double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, but the team fell victim to a 17-4 early deficit which proved too much to overcome against the Associated Press’ unanimous preseason title favorites. 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart led the way for Seattle, totaling 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.
“I think the biggest thing to learn and understand for our group is, this is basketball,” Head Coach Derek Fisher said after the game. “It really is, it’s just a competition and the team that really competes harder for more minutes in a game typically either wins the game or definitely has a chance. I thought that we came out trying to feel the game out and we didn’t compete right from the jump ball.”
The Sparks got off to a slow start against Seattle, starting the game down 9-0. Jewell Loyd began the game going 4-for-6 from the field in the first quarter with three 3-pointers. The Storm’s early momentum gave them a 27-16 lead at the end of the first quarter where they shot 55% from the field and 44.4% from the 3-point line.
The Sparks first basket was a three-pointer by Candace Parker that did not come until four minutes into the game. Candace Parker kept the Sparks within striking distance in the first by scoring six of the team’s 16 first-quarter points. The Sparks continued to battle throughout the second quarter but weren’t able to fully capitalize as they entered the second half down 45-29.
The Sparks got going in the third quarter, outsourcing Seattle 26-20 to cut the Storm lead to 10 heading into the fourth quarter. Riquna Williams had a stellar third-quarter performance scoring 11 of her 16 total points including three 3-pointers. The Sparks continued their hot shooting in the fourth quarter and got another lift from veteran Seimone Augustus who hit back-to-back tough 3-pointers to bring the Sparks to within one possession at 66-63 with 6:43 to go in the fourth.
But the Storm was able to pull away with some key plays from point guard Jordin Canada, who was starting in place of Sue Bird, who sat out to rest. Canada ended the game with 16 points and was able to get to the basket and draw fouls down the stretch to help the Storm hold off the Sparks.
“Our second unit coming in the Chicago game, this game, even the Connecticut game, is doing a good job getting us back,” Parker said. “But then we exert all of our effort getting back into the game and I don’t know if we have enough to get over the hump.”
The Sparks had four players in double-figures: Parker (19), Ogwumike (14), Williams (16), and Augustus (12). After playing four games in eight days to start the season, the Sparks have three days off before facing the Indiana Fever next Wednesday, Aug. 5. The team is now 2-2 and in seventh place in the standings.
Los Angeles Highlights:
• Riquna Williams scored her 2,000th career point, shooting 4-7 from the 3-point line
• Candace Parker recorded her second consecutive double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds
• Four players scored in double digits: Parker (19), Riquna Williams (16), Nneka Ogwumike (14) and Seimone Augustus (12)
• Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike combined for 19 rebounds