Sparks talk about playoff push after avenging a loss

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angles Sparks avenged a two-day old loss by beating the Storm 68-62, on the strength of forward/center Candace Parker’s 27 points Tuesday night at the Staples Center in front of a crowd of 9,023.

The all-star, who admitted she had been particularly irked by her team’s two-point loss in Seattle Sunday, took it out on the opponent with aggressive play. Parker and the Sparks held Storm center Lauren Jackson to 14 points, nine of them in the second half – and much of that shutdown was due to Parker.

In the second half, Parker started attacking the basket, sometimes going one-on-one with the veteran Jackson, and beating her. After the game, Jackson conceded that Parker "just got rolling" and didn’t stop.

“Tonight was one of those games where we didn’t get into a flow,” said Jackson. “We didn’t really help each other. I personally couldn’t drain a basket which was very frustrating because I know when we are able to knock shots down, we are the best team in the league…even if their best player has 35 points, we will still win.”

Post game reactions from the Sparks and the Storm on the game and the rest of the season

Sparks coach Joe  Bryant

"We played good basketball. The key is good defense, and we held them to nine points in the second quarter."

When asked if there was a reason for the shorter rotations in tonight’s game:

"It’s playoff time, Jack."

"Candace told me she felt good before the game."

"Lauren Jackson had a tough time guarding her [Parker]."

"Another key for us is that we forced 19 turnovers and got 20 points out of it."

"Right now, we are just taking one game at a time….As long as we play like this, and past two games, this is where I envision our team being; playing defense. Offense comes and goes but defense is ever lasting. Finally these past two matches comes for the best of us."

Bryant on Parker’s performance

"A lot of people look at greatness as being an offensive player but greatness is also dominating in the game defensively. She did a great job defensively being active, playing the passing lane. And that is what super stars can do."

Parker on coming out this game

"Getting to the basket…when I hit my 3 earlier it made it easier for me to get to the basket. I think my teammates did a great job finding me, and we had good spacing."

"When it became crunch time, I felt like I was able to attack more."

When asked  if Sunday’s game had played a part in her performance Tuesday, her eyes got big and she said:

"Yes! I was pissed.":

When asked if it felt good to win

"It’s amazing to win – I love winning. It makes it better when you go to sleep – breakfast tastes better.”

Sparks forward Ebony Hoffman on how she feels about 3 out of the 4 next games being at home

"Phoenix better watch out! We had a ruthless July. July was one of the hardest schedules I’ve ever played…to be on the road for 2 10-game road trips in the same month, it was just unbelievable. We came out and played like we were suppose to but hey, we are still in it, it’s not as bad as it looks. We were pissed off in Seattle to play as hard as we played and we played a great game up there…to have it come down to the last seconds like that. The last few seconds of the game it hurt us deep to our core so tonight, we came out with that fire we needed. I think everybody that played knew the intensity and the strength and wisdom it will take to beat the defending champions and to know we are fighting for a playoff spot. So every game is like do or die for us."

Storm guard Sue Bird on finding their rhythm

"We got good looks but we didn’t knock them down…we looked at the stats, our coach read them to us and we out rebounded them and did a lot of other good things but we didn’t shoot well and turned the ball over way too much."

Bird on making playoffs

"Our chances are good as anyone else…all it takes is a team to get hot and because every team is so talented, at any moment it can happen. Teams like Atlanta last year was the fourth seed and made it to the finals so just because you lost a game or are in third place, that cant get you down. Every game, anything can happen; there are four games left and we have a chance to put ourselves in second and once playoffs start then we really have a chance."

Seattle coach Brian Agler on the loss "in general"

"First half it was turnovers then them hitting 3-point shots and second half we just had a mental breakdown defensively and didn’t shoot the ball very well across the board."

Agler on lost opportunities

"We’ve been here before and had a lot of opportunities here, we just didn’t capitalize on them…just gotta move on and get ready for the next one." There was definitely a step back in our turnovers in the first half, we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity and I will say this, we only had 5 turnovers in the second half but we had a couple critical turnovers right when we were making our run and took possessions away so we are a work in progress."

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