Understaffed Sparks Fall to Storm – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Storm forward Breanna Stewart guards Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (Amanda Scurlock/LA Sentinel)

With injuries plaguing the Los Angeles Sparks roster, the Seattle Storm was able to pull out a 106-69 victory. The Sparks only had eight players available to compete as five players were suspended.

“We gave up a lot of points in the locker room tonight and it kind of hurts,” Sparks head coach Fred Williams said. “It’s hard because sometimes you might not have that person on the day.”

Sparks guard Lexi Brown led the way with 13 points and three steals, and forward Neka Ogwumike had four rebounds. Storm forward Breanna Stewart led the way with 23 points and center Ezzy Magbegor had 11 rebounds.

Among the injured players was center Chini Ogumike, her teammates not knowing she was out until hours before the game. Injuries have also allowed young players like center Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Kiana Smith a chance to gain experience.

Sparks guard Jordyn Canada had 14 points and six assists (Amanda Scurlock/LA Sentinel)

The Sparks kept pace with the Storm until Seattle guard Jewel Lloyd found his offensive rhythm, scoring 11 points in the second quarter alone. Although the Storm had more turnovers, the Sparks gave up more points off their own turnovers in the first half.

Seattle forward Breanna Stewart was 3-4 from downtown, helping her to 19 points. Center Ezy Magbegor controlled the scoreboard with nine rebounds by halftime.

The Sparks are back with a mind to attack the paint, push the tempo and draw fouls.

“We were aggressive, hit first and made our little run,” Sparks guard Jordyn Canada said. “So I think we’re all on the same page about bringing that energy and being together and being aggressive, we’re a really good team. So we just have to be consistent.”

Seattle shot 64.6 percent from the field and 47.1 percent on three-pointers. Storm forward Tina Charles led the bench with 18 points, Seattle’s reserves scored 41 points.

“They shot us the ball well from the outside and we actually outplayed them,” Williams said. “They’ve really got a balanced scoreline with some players who can deliver.”

Sparks guard Kiana Smith (5) earned playing time for the first time since the preseason (Amanda Scurlock/LA Sentinel)

As the Sparks head into the All-Star break, they know they can’t sulk over the loss. Brown planned to practice on Friday to prepare for Tuesday’s game against the Washington Mystics.

“The break is not that long, it’s only two or three days,” Brown said. “I’ll still be locked up.”

The loss gives the Sparks a 10-12 overall record, while the Storm are 15-8 overall. Los Angeles is currently seventh in the league, which still puts them in playoff contention.

“Obviously you want to be better, but we’re going into the break,” Canada said. “So we’ve just got to think about resting, doing what we can to regroup because we’re back on Tuesday.”

The Sparks will return to action when they host the Washington Mystics on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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