SAN ANTONIO (AP)—The Los Angeles Sparks wasted no time in getting Joe Bryant a victory in his debut as their new coach.
The victory ended a five-game losing streak for the Sparks.
“It was not a monkey,” Pinicheiro said of ending the losing streak, “it was an orangutan, a gorilla on our back.”
Bryant, Kobe’s father, took over as coach of the Sparks (5-6) on Sunday after Jennifer Gillom was fired. Los Angeles had lost the first five games on their seven-game road trip, which ends Friday at Tulsa.
This is Bryant’s second stint as coach of the Sparks. He previously coached them from August 2005 until the end of the 2006 season.
He showed some fire early on, getting a technical in the second quarter for a non-call.
“If I don’t get them, they’ll get them, and that’ll throw them off their game,” he said.
During the third quarter, his shoot-first, ask-questions-later mindset helped loosen up the Sparks. After Kristi Toliver turned the ball over, Bryant issued some advice from the sidelines: “Shoot it,” he yelled repeatedly.
Toliver responded by burying a 3-pointer on the next possession.
“You can’t be afraid to play,” Bryant said. “Someone like Kristi Toliver, I’ll take her out if she doesn’t shoot the ball.”
The same advice went for Penicheiro, who scored a season high in her second game off the bench.
“She’s always been known as a non-shooter, a passer,” Bryant said. “I kind of gave her the green light, said ‘If you don’t shoot, I’m taking you out too.”’
The Sparks scored 49 points off the bench, led by Penicheiro. Natasha Lacy added 13 and Jantel Lavender had 12. In the second quarter, only one Sparks starter—DeLisha Milton-Jones—played as they turned an eight-point deficit into a two-point lead.
The Sparks held Silver Stars star guard Becky Hammon to five points on 2-of-14 shooting. She missed all seven of her 3-point attempts.
“That happens sometimes when you get in a rough patch,” Hammon said. “As (coach Dan) Hughes says, ‘We get cold, we can get hot.”’