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September 14, 2008 at 1:16 PM

Sparks game thread

GAME OVER: Not sure what the Storm learned from this one, losing 65-48 to LA, but the point difference is about equal to what Bird and Griffith produce, so maybe Seattle will be alright in the postseason. Parker said she knows it’s hardest to get out of the first round and Seattle knows that all too well, losing in the opening round the past three seasons. Regardless, it’s going to be one of the most entertaining series of the postseason. Until then…
MIMIC THAT: Well, Wright just picked Bobbitt’s pocket and scored a layin, could you do that Burke (smile)? The score is 52-36 LA with 6:44 remaining.
ANOTHER HATER?: Just got word that ESPN2 announcer Doris Burke thinks she could guard Wright and would be all in her grill, picking her pocket, especially if she was forced to go left. I don’t know if it would be that simple for Burke, but Wright isn’t the greatest ball-handler, we all know that. It’s so tiring to even talk about it. She does what she does well and it works for the Storm, particularly when Bird is on the court with her. Maybe Burke could get Lauren Jackson the ball, but I could get Jackson the ball and my only basketball experience is being captain of the cheerleading squad that cheered for the teams for four years in high school. It’s funny that Burke felt the need to go off. Guess she has to say something and there’s not much to work with without the stars in the game. I know if I see one more shot of Bird, Leslie, Parker, and Jackson on the bench I’m going to vomit. (I’m watching on a screen while attending the game). Maybe the announcers should talk about the state of the league and how this is the largest crowd LA has had in a while. Or maybe ask Parker’s fiance Sheldon Williams what he’s texting throughout the game. I’d love to know that answer.
HALFTIME: Couldn’t hear Agler’s halftime spiel aired on ESPN2, bet it had something to do with taking care or the ball and playing better defense. He still hasn’t put Bird and Yo back in and why would he now that the second half has started? The Storm is down 42-18 and there’s no need for Bird and Yo to try and rally the team back with it only helping a distant WNBA Finals home-court advantage dream. Reporters here are undecided about who’ll win the series between the teams. A lot believe Seattle will if Swoopes and Cash are healthy because the Sparks are so inconsistent. Maybe this is where covering the Storm so long hurts me, but LA owns them in the postseason and I’m not certain this is the year it’s broken. I do know home-court is a must for Seattle. KeyArena definitely plays a part in the Storm’s play and they’ll need serious backup, which Seattle did not have in 2002 and 2006.
DYDEK CHECKS IN: She’s still learning the system and Cooper said she’s not in game playing shape, by Polish center Margo Dydek is in the game and made a basket in her first offensive possession to give the Sparks a 38-13 lead with 3:16 remaining before halftime.
SPENCER FOR HIRE: Reserve Sidney Spencer is keeping the Sparks on pace with her shooting, she scored seven of her nine points in the second quarter to give LA a 32-11 lead. The Storm has 10 turnovers, which the Sparks converted into 11 points. Seattle is playing a little timid and needs to snap out of it. The game may mean little overall, but the reserves need to gain confidence by seeing their game work against the Sparks on the road.
END OF FIRST: Woeful shooting is hurting the Storm, who is down 21-6 at the end of the opening quarter. Seattle is shooting 21.4 percent from the field while LA is shooting 42.9. F Shyra Ely is doing the best for the Storm, scoring four points. Kelly Santos has some tacky turnovers, but is being forceful inside along with Little. They just need the shots to drop. Before the game I thought the Storm’s bench was better, but LA’s is really playing well. It helps they have vets in Murriel Page and Marie Ferdinand-Harris on the court.
BIRD, WRIGHT, GRIFFITH SIT: Don’t know if it’s for the remainder of the game, but Bird, Yo, and Wright are on the bench with their shooting shirts on. Is cold in Staples Center, but maybe Agler had seen enough. Leslie, Parker, and Brown are also on the bench chilling while their team builds a 17-6 lead with 1:54 remaining in the quarter.
FIRST BUCKET: Little got the Storm on the board, hitting a nice turnaround jumper with 5:15 remaining to make the score 15-2. There could be a psycological drawback to this game no matter what Agler says. Who knows when Swin Cash (back) and Sheryl Swoopes (concussion) will really be able to return and getting beat down like this is not fun after all of the positive momentum the Storm bench created for themselves, hanging close to Sacramento and defeating Atlanta without all of their stars.
TOO EASY: LA is the No. 1 shot-blocking team in the league and they’re displaying that skill with ease to start the game ahead 4-0. Parker blocked KG at the three-point line while Leslie didn’t even fully extend her arm to block Wright’s layin. Griffith got a little payback, blocking Parker later. But the Storm is still down 6-0 with 7:22 remaining in the opening quarter.
GRIFFITH STARTING: Yo is on the court ready to tip-off. She was fiddling with her leg during the national anthem, so I guess it was just a slight scare.
GRIFFITH HURT?: Griffth crumpled to the court during layup drills, immediately grabbing for her right knee. The team froze and then surrounded her, apparently not knowing what happened. She seemed to slip, but I don’t know. Agler and trainers helped peel her off the court and it’s unknown whether she’ll continue to start as planned.
Tune in early if you want to see the stars from Los Angeles and Seattle. Storm mainstays Sue Bird and Yolanda Griffith will start along with the Sparks’ normal starters, but both coaches said they’ll take it easy on them since the postseason begins on Friday in LA.
Sparks coach Michael Cooper said it’s important for his team to play as usual, noting that in his former playing days, easing up on rotations did not help prepare for the playoffs. Storm coach Brian Agler is dealing with an injury-plagued team, so he said he’s going to limit the minutes of Bird, Griffith, and Tanisha Wright.
“We want to do the fundamental things — rebound well, make our free throws and play good solid defense,” Cooper said of the matinee matchup. “Depending on where it’s at the last quarter of the game, that’s when we may start pulling our starters. But we’re coimg out to play because in my experience, every time we’ve slacked off two or three games of the season, it does nothing good for you.”
Here are tonight’s starters:
F Camille Little
F Katie Gearlds
C Yolanda Griffith
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird
F DeLisha Milton-Jones
F Candace Parker
C Lisa Leslie
G Keisha Brown
G Shannon Bobbitt
Tonight’s officials are Denise Brooke-Clauser, Cameron Inouye, and Michael Price.



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