Los Angeles, CA- In their first meeting of the season, the LA Sparks (6-11) suffered a tough loss against the Seattle Storm (14-4) in the WNBA’s Independence Day game on Sunday evening. The past few games, the Sparks have played the top two teams in the league, namely the Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm. The Storm and the Aces are both tied for the best record in the WNBA (14-4). The Sparks are currently in the midst of a four game losing streak. In the last game against the Aces, the Sparks showed flashes of a comeback in the second half, and the same can be said against the Storm. A momentum swing played in the Sparks favor in the third quarter, but the Storm were able to regain the advantage and executed down the stretch to win 84-74 in Los Angeles.
Everything went the Sparks way in the third quarter.
Defensive specialist Brittney Sykes led LA in rattling the Storm’s offense.
The LA Sparks forced 12 turnovers and converted 14 points off those turnovers.
Sykes recorded her first double-double of the season and third of her career with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
Erica Wheeler also scored 19 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
The Sparks were starting to convert on the offensive end. Fueled by a 14-6 run, the Sparks took a 58-56 lead going into the fourth quarter.
However, this would not last long as fatigue began to set in for the Sparks in the final period.
“Because we are down people, exertion of energy is a little bit different. Fatigue sets in but we are more than capable of fighting through it. It’s a part of the game. It’s just a matter of what we do when we are in those moments,” said Sykes.
LA could not contain the Storm around the rim as the Storm scored 36 points in the paint.
The Sparks also neglected to cover the perimeter as the Storm shot 46.9% from the field and 40% from 3-point range.
“As you know we are down bodies. It’s very hard to sustain it. I think we just got a little tired and lost a little bit of focus. Seattle is Seattle. They are going to stay the same and they made shots. They made a lot of tough shots and that’s what kind of killed us,” said Wheeler.
The LA Sparks did convert from the charity strike to go 100% from the line shooting 17/17 FTs.
Sykes shot 7/7 free throws and Wheeler shot 6/6 free throws.
Sykes commented on what contributed to their perfection from the free throw line.
“Practice and knowing that one of our goals is to get to the line. To be able to get there and then make them pay with 100%, we got to keep doing it. We have to keep making free throws and we have to keep pushing the other team’s defense to guard us.”
Near the end of the game, the Sparks were getting good looks, but were unable to convert.
“The things that we can control are those convertible opportunities that are there. That is what we have to continue to work at and improve in,” said Head Coach Derek Fisher.
He added, “We are there. But, we still have work to do in order to get closer to having a chance to win these games.”
The LA Sparks head to Seattle for their second matchup against the Storm on Wednesday, July 7 at 7 p.m.