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The Sparks quell the Storm to create breathing room on second seed

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The Los Angeles Sparks hosted the Seattle Storm in a game with playoff implications for both teams as the Sparks looked to hold onto the second seed and the Storm tried to gain a spot.

The Sparks topped the Storm 68-60 behind Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and L.A.’s bench.

Parker led the Sparks to an 11 point lead over the Storm at halftime with the power of her defense and by putting up a team-high 14 points. She took off in the 2nd quarter by finishing at the rim, hitting from deep and making winning hustle plays.

Parker was the anchor of L.A.’s defense that helped force Seattle into 11 first-half turnovers. The Sparks ended the first-half with just three turnovers, which is one way they held a lead over the Storm while only shooting 31 percent from the field.

Breanna Stewart led the way for the Storm on offense and defense. She started the game 3-for-3 and scored Seattle’s first eight points. When L.A. stepped up their defense, Stewart focused on her own defensive ending the half with four blocks. She ended the game with a career-high six blocks.

The Sparks were up by as many as 17, but with help from Stewart the Storm cut the lead to 11 at the half. L.A. then came out cold in the third quarter and let Seattle back in the game. The Sparks were a dreadful 1-for-8 to start the third, which allowed the Storm to take the lead. L.A. eventually slowed the Storm down and regained their lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Ogwumike was off for most of the game but she got hot late scoring eight in the fourth to give L.A. a boost.  The Sparks’ bench were the heroes of the game and compensated for the overall lack of scoring by the starters. L.A.’s bench scored 25 to Seattle’s two bench points.

The Sparks had lost 3-of-5 before this game and got a much-needed win to separate themselves from the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics who are on their tail in the standings. The Storm’s loss now puts them at 9-12 and bumps them back to 1.5 games out of a playoff spot.

It was a grind-it-out game from start to finish and the Sparks continue to struggle putting teams away, but they ultimately made winning plays at the end.

The Sparks next game is on the road Friday night against the San Antonio Stars at 5:00 p.m. PT.

 

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