Los Angeles-There is a new Showtime era playing out at the Staples Center this summer, The Los Angeles Sparks (1-1) are now part of that rich tradition. The 2014 season is a reality thanks to Magic Johnson & financial partners. Their season home opener was a defeat at the hands of visiting Phoenix Mercury (2-0), 74-69. The Sparks crowd was behind their team all game with plenty of energy and noise.
The Sparks lacked fire power, even though Candace Parker did lead her team with 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Only one other Spark player scored double figures; Alana Beard scored 16 points that included two back-to- back three pointers at a key stretch. Both teams shot below 41 percent from the field, but one telling difference in the game was at free throw line, where the Mercury shot 90 percent. The stars from the other team did not disappoint the fans, Diana Taurasi lead the Mercury with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists. Four of Mercury starters scored in double figures. Brittney Griner, in her second year WNBA, dropped 13 points and added 10 rebounds for a double-double. The game started and ended in same fashion; with the Mercury jumping on the Sparks with a scoring blitz. The Mercury went on a 11-2 run in the first quarter. The Sparks battled back and by the end of the period were only down by seven points, 18-11. Taurasi scored 10 of her teams’ 18 points, showing she was all business on the court. She also scored seven more points in last three minutes of the fourth quarter, which lifted the Mercury to the victory.
It was a great early battle of Western Conference teams. Both team took leads throughout the game. At the start of the fourth quarter, Phoenix was holding on to a one point lead, 51-50. The Sparks took a leads of five points after a pull up jumper by guard Lindsey Harding with 3:44 left in the game, giving Los Angeles a 64-59 cushion. But it just wasn’t enough. Star forward Nneka Ogwumike could only watch as she sat out the game with a low back strain.
With this revamped Sparks team, they will need few more games to gel and win games like this down the stretch. Taurasi showed how leadership along with ice in her veins can earn victory down the stretch. The Sparks will take on San Antonio next Sunday, May 25 at Staples Center.