MERCY: The Storm is down 84-53 headed into the final quarter. Shots are short and the defense isn’t getting the stops it saw in the first half. Six players on LA’s squad have scored in double-digits. Little (13) and Wright (10) are the only ones for the Storm. Seattle’s worst overall season-opening loss was 30 points against Houston in 2000, its inaugural game as an expansion team. The Storm is down 86-56 with 5:40 left in the game. I’m out to write the newspaper version. Checkout the Monday story in The Seattle Times for an overall summary.
ROOKIE FIRST II: Bravard caught a pass from Wright on the perimeter for a three-pointer, with 58.2 seconds left in the third. The shot — at the WNBA’s new extended distance no-less, is her first in the WNBA. It’s 84-53 LA.
KICKED BALL: Wright booted the ball up to Row 15 at Staples Center, defending in the perimeter. It’s the only highlight for Seattle this quarter. It’s 79-48 LA with 1:27 remaining in the third.
WHOOSH: The Sparks have been doing anything the want after the break and Seattle is down 73-46 after a 20-5 LA run. Kind of figured the game would change after the break. LA would make adjustments, moving the ball even more, and Seattle would, too. Yet, given the Sparks have played together for a while, it’s easy for those veterans to be fluid in the changes after the break. Seattle is new to each other, even if the vets know what needs to change to stay close. Ogwumike, the 2012 Rookie of the Year out of Stanford, has 15 points along with Toliver. Thompson has Seattle’s two points in the quarter. By the way, LA is still rolling. It’s 77-46 with 2:51 on the clock.
THE BREAK: Seattle is down 53-41 at the break. It’s shooting 50 percent from the field. LA is shooting 66.7 percent, however, totaling 13 assists on 20 made field goals. The Storm also has six turnovers for eight LA points. Everyone wondered who’d generate the Storm’s offense with the franchises’ all-time leader, Lauren Jackson, and Bird out due to injuries. So far, that’s Little. She has 11 points headed into the break while Thompson has added nine. Ogwumike (10), Harding (10) and Beard (11) are leading the Sparks. Harding also has seven assists in her debut in a Sparks uniform.
DISTRACTED: Uh, Seattle is down 46-37 with 1:25 left in the opening half. I saw some airballs and turnovers that led to transition baskets for LA. But honestly? I was gawking at Jessica Alba, who’s sitting inches from me with her family, Cash Warren (who?) and WNBA legend Lisa Leslie. Look on their Instagram accounts for cute pics. Look at mine (@JaydaEvans) for the stalker version.
TIME: Seattle is rolling, again, using its defense to slow LA. Surprisingly rookie Cierra Bravard is in the plus column. She’s using her wide 6-foot-4 stature to box out and give Little some room underneath. I thought her WNBA inexperience would keep her off the court, but she’s showing that seasoning gained in Spain last season. Strick swept the baseline for a layin and Little nailed a three-pointer to give Seattle a mini 6-0 run and force LA coach Carol Ross to call for time with 6:05 left before halftime.
PULLING AWAY: The Sparks used a few kick out passes to get Coleman open on the three-point line and stitch together a 13-5 run. LA is up 28-20 headed into the second quarter. The Storm is a little slow on its rotation on defense. Thompson leads the Storm with seven points. Coleman and Ogwumike have eight points apiece for the Sparks.
YOUR MOVE: The Storm has a dip in production with the reserves in the game. Since the team will play with 10 players this season, that can’t happen. Agler typically only plays an eight-player rotation anyway, but he’ll stick to five is the next three can’t get it done. LA worked the ball around well to get wing Marissa Coleman an open three-pointer to take a 21-17 lead.
ROOKIE FIRST: Storm rookie Tianna Hawkins (Maryland) made a strong move along the baseline for her first WNBA points. The game is still knotted, 17 points apiece with 3:30 on the clock. Seattle is starting to foul with reserves Hawkins, Nakia Sanford, and Shekinna Stricklen on the court.
THAT FIRE: Both teams are shooting really well. Seattle is 7 of 11 from the field while LA is 6 of 10. Agler wanted to limit turnovers and buckets in transition for LA and the Storm has succeeded in both headed into the first timeout with 4:36 left in the first quarter. The Sparks also have zero turnovers with two points on the fast-break. It’s all tied at 15 points apiece.
NICE PLAY: With a simple nod, Johnson setup Little on a cut behind Parker for a wide open layin in with 8:15 remaining in the opening quarter. The two and Wright are close friends, often going out to dinner with each other. That bond is really going to make a difference this season. Two buckets by Thompson and a short jumper by Little has the Storm up 8-6 early.
WELCOME BACK: Los Angelinos gave plenty of love to natives in Storm uniforms, Thompson and Quinn. Seattle actually has three former LA players, counting Johnson. Not much cheering for he during pregame player intros, though. Agler said there wasn’t much commotion with the veteran players returning home to play, again. “It’s just a different uniform,” Quinn said. Agler added, “they just wanted a whole bunch of tickets for friends and family.”
Is there anything possibly left to say about the Seattle’s WNBA season debut at Los Angeles on Sunday? The league tipped its 17th season on Friday with a trickle of three games so far this weekend, giving the Storm squad time to watch others play while still practicing against each other until today’s tip.
“The veteran players get tired of playing against each other,” Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler said. “Usually the teams that do the best early in the year are the ones that have some continuity back from the previous season. After watching some of these games, that’s sort of what has been indicated to me. Continuity really steps forward.”
Well, the Storm has everything but continuity returning this season. There are three new starters and five new faces overall due to injures and free-agent departures. LA, meanwhile, returns its core and added a solid PG in Lindsey Harding, plus the Sparks are healthy.
The Sparks swept the Storm in five regular-season games last season in nearly topping Minnesota for the 2012 Western Conference championship. One of those wins against Seattle last year was a 72-66 decision in the season-opener at KeyArena, snapping the Storm’s six-game win streak in season-openers.
“Being one of the newcomers here, the one thing I can say this team can really pride itself on is heart,” said PG Temeka Johnson, who’ll replace Sue Bird (knee) as floor-general this season. “That’s something that really can’t be taught. People can talk about talent and about what this team doesn’t have or lack thereof, but the one thing that we do have is heart, which will carry us over a lot of other teams and a lot of other players. We’re determined to win. Not everybody has that”
So, it’s ballers with heart versus the All-Star redemption squad. Let’s see which wins, beginning with your starting lineups.
F Noelle Quinn
F Tina Thompson
C Camille Little
G Temeka Johnson
G Tanisha Wright
F Alana Beard
F Nneka Ogwumike
C Candace Parker
G Lindsey Harding
G Kristi Toliver
Tonight’s officials are Dennis Brooks, Clarke Stevens, and Kurt Walker.