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July 12, 2008 at 6:06 PM

Sparks game thread

SWOOPES GOES NUTS: Swoopes wants people on their feet, flinging her arms wildly in the air after a basket. The Storm won this convincingly 70-52, improving to 12-1 at KeyArena. The Storm outrebounded the Sparks 47-29, with Yo’s 12 leading the way. Bird was the leading scorer at 18 while Jackson had five blocks, four on Parker.
LIFE WITHOUT LJ: Jackson has been on the bench for an extended period and this could be the Storm’s look without her as she misses five games to prepare for the Olympics. A-Rob is in the game with Yo, Swoopes, Wright, and Cash. Seattle is up 63-47.
LA NEEDS TIME: There’s still a lot of time left, but a turnaround jumper by Swoopes made the score 59-45 with 7:06 on the clock. They just showed Clarence on the jumbo screen and the crowd cheered. LA had to call a timeout to talk it over.
OUT OF ROTATION: Agler won’t speak negatively about his players in public, but it’s clear F Shyra Ely is in the doghouse. She hasn’t played a minute while Little has played exactly that amount. When asked about Ely and why she seemingly has fallen out of favor, Agler responded that he likes the way all of his players are playing.
TRAPPED: Ashley Robinson is having a good game, helping Jackson trap Leslie in the paint for a three-second violation. Robinson has three boards in seven minutes off the bench.
WELCOME TO THE KEY: Parker said she was excited to see what KeyArena was like after hearing all the stories. Well, folks are giving her a real taste of Seattle. They’re booing Leslie as if she was the mayor that sold the Sonics out to OKC and they’re on their feet in excitement after a little 5-0 run put the Storm ahead 44-37. Seattle looks like they’re in control, we’ll see if they can pull it out. There’s 4:34 remaining in the third.
GETTING NASTY: Swoopes collected the rebound of a Jackson block on Parker, but instead of continuing play, she screamed at official Eric Brewton that he missed a foul. “That’s a foul!” she belted right in his face. With defenders still swatting at the ball, Brewton finally did call a foul on Milton-Jones. Storm is up 38-36.
BACK UP: Baskets by Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Candace Parker briefly put the Sparks down 35-34 with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter. Fans wanted a foul called on a Griffith layin, but replays clearly showed that Yo didn’t have the hops to make the shot over Parker.
NEW VOICE: The normal public address announcer couldn’t make the game tonight and neither could the backup, so guess who is behind the mic? OK, you wouldn’t know him, but John Leach, director of events and entertainment for the Sonics is livening up the place. Don’t worry haters, it’s temporary.
HALFTIME LEAD: A block by Swoopes on Sparks newcomer Amber Jacobs at the buzzer saved a 30-28 lead for Seattle headed into the break. Press row has been talking about how LA still needs a PG, a problem since Temeka Johnson left due to personal reasons. The Storm made costly turnovers to allow the Sparks back in the game. Jackson leads in scoring with 10 on 3-for-9 shooting while Parker has eight on 3-for-8 shooting from the field. Halftime is all about pioneering women, an annual honor done by all the league’s teams.
BIG DUO BACK: Leslie and Parker were resting while the Storm chipped away to tie the game. Leslie just threw to a fan in purple seated courtside (no joke), turning the ball over. So the score is still tied, but at 24 points apiece.
ICE COLD: Hopefully the shooting picks up, but the Storm is fighting hard to get back in the game. They’re down 22-18 with 5:53 remaining in the second quarter. But Swoopes just collected a steal and called a timeout to retain possession. The Storm is shooting 29.6 percent from the field while LA is shooting 33.3. But Jackson just converted Swoopes defense into a tough layin to pull Seattle within 22-20. A bucket by KG tied the score and the Key in on its feet, finally drowning out the brave Sparks fans that dared to show their loyalty here.
BEAT LA: The chant has started and Leslie was booed by the KeyArena crowd during player introductions. Kristen O’Neill is on the inactive list for Seattle. Agler is probably going to use Kelly Santos as bait to draw Leslie into foul trouble. That was a factor in Los Angeles’ losses.
COOPER BACK: Even though he was frisky in answering questions, Sparks coach Michael Cooper is back on the sideline after supposedly having to be rushed to the hospital on Friday during his team’s practice. Cooper at first denied he had to go to the hospital, then said he had a “doctor’s appointment” due to a “cold.” The Los Angeles public relations spokeswoman said Cooper suffered from a herniated disk, needing medical care. Today she altered her statement to say, “he was a little under the weather. Sorry for the confusion.” Regardless, Los Angeles is looking at this game as a biggie to regain control in the West. The Sparks play their biggest competitors in Seattle and San Antonio (Monday) before heading out on a long six-game road trip.
Remember the last time Storm F Lauren Jackson left for an Olympic break? Seattle crushed Charlotte 87-55 and Jackson hit so many three-pointers she shocked herself in finishing with 25 points and eight rebounds before more than 8,000 fans at KeyArena.
Surely Los Angeles will spark some energy in her. The electricity already has kicked up a notch with the arrival of Clarence, former Storm guard Betty Lennox’s brother. He’s dressed in a sharp black-and-white pinstripe suit with a black hat trimmed in white. So fly, people were clicking the camera for him and the south corner where he sat for Lennox’s stint in Seattle gave him a warm reception.
But anything from the Storm would be better than the dud that was Thursday’s noon game. Even Jackson admitted she was sluggish in the win.
The team watched clips of their loss to the Sparks in LA prior to tip-off. And from the glimpses I saw, this squad is different. They were killed inside by Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie, giving up 17 offensive rebounds.
“They exposed a weakness that we had at that time,” Agler said of the Sparks. “We may look back on it one of these days and say they did us a big favor. Because the did expose us and give our players credit — they recognized it and made the improvements. We’ve addressed it [the rebounding], but I don’t think we’re as good as we can be.”
Seattle entered tonight’s game outrebounding their past five opponents since the LA loss by 10.
Anyway, here are tonight’s starters:
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Yolanda Griffith
G Sheryl Swoopes
G Sue Bird
F Candace Parker
F DeLisha Milton-Jones
C Lisa Leslie
G Marie Ferdinand-Harris
G Shannon Bobbitt
Tonight’s officials are Shelly Nakasone, Jeffrey Smith, and Eric Brewton.



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