Sparks-Storm Preview


Nearly halfway through the season, the Los Angeles Sparks are still seeking to solve their inconsistency.

That hasn't been too much of a problem against the Seattle Storm.

The Sparks will try to improve to 3-0 in the season series when they begin a road-heavy stretch Thursday night.

Los Angeles rebounded from a season-worst four consecutive losses to take three of four but couldn't keep that going Tuesday against short-handed Chicago. The Sparks (6-9) failed to take advantage of the absences of Sky star Elena Delle Donne and starting guard Courtney Vandersloot in a 90-83 defeat.

Nneka Ogwumike had a season-high 26 points and Candace Parker scored 22, but no other teammate registered more than 10.

Los Angeles has allowed 89-plus points in each of the last two games after giving up an average of 68.7 in its prior three. The Sparks are near the bottom of the WNBA in opponents' points per game (80.8).

"We're almost halfway through the season, and we're still having the same problems," Parker said. "We'll figure it out and at some point we've got to sit down and figure out what the problem is because we can't keep saying we're going to figure it out."

The Sparks allowed their fewest points in 2014 in a 65-57 home win over the Storm (7-11) on June 24, and they opened the season with an 80-69 victory in Seattle on May 16.

Los Angeles will try to pick up another victory to kick off a stretch in which five of the next six games are on the road. The Sparks have their lone home game Sunday against Phoenix before starting a season-high road trip Tuesday versus Minnesota.

Seattle will seek its fifth win in six home games after topping Minnesota 81-71 at KeyArena on Friday. The Storm couldn't complete the home-and-home sweep Sunday despite facing a short-handed squad.

The Lynx were without second-leading scorer Seimone Augustus, but they pulled out a 74-69 victory. Sue Bird had 21 points for Seattle after scoring a combined 18 in her two prior games.

The rest of the Storm's starters totaled 19 points while Jenna O'Hea had 14 off the bench after matching a career high with 15 on Friday.

Seattle erased a nine-point deficit early in the fourth quarter in less than four minutes but scored one point in the final 51 seconds.

"We were down 10 at halftime, so we had to come from behind. That takes a lot of energy and I think although we did a great job and we feel good about coming back, it doesn't feel so good to lose," Bird told the Storm's official website. "They made some plays at the end of the game to get that win. You win some you lose some."