Repeat and rinse: Silver Stars douse Sparks again, 94-80

San Antonio’s Becky Hammon and Los Angeles’ Jantel Lavender. Photo © Robert Franklin, all rights reserved.

Season Series:

  • 06/16/12 – San Antonio 98, Los Angeles 85
  • 06/24/12 – San Antonio 91, Los Angeles 71
  • 06/28/12 – San Antonio 94, Los Angeles 80
  • Next: 08/23/12 – San Antonio at Los Angeles

In front of a crowd of 15,184 for the annual camp day, the second-largest regular-season crowd in franchise history, San Antonio (6-5) beat Los Angeles (10-6) for the third time this season. The 94-80 win came just four days after the Silver Stars handed the Sparks their first home loss at Staples Center. It was also the third straight loss for Los Angeles.

“On paper, we probably don’t look like a good match up for them,” said Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon about the series between the two teams. “And I think that’s generally what people think. But you got to go out there and play the game. I think we have a really focused approach with them. We have a specific game plan and we just carry it out. We communicate. And we just, play-by-play, do what we need to do.”

Hammon finished with 17 points and six assists. Four other San Antonio players finished in double figures led by Sophia Young’s 23 points along with five rebounds. Shameka Christon scored 15 points, Danielle Adams had 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds and Jia Perkins finished with 12 points.

“I love how we played together,” said Hammon. “We moved the ball. They were really focused on trying to take me and [Sophia Young] away. Especially trying to trap me in pick and rolls. So we just made the right basketball plays. We moved the ball and then people knocked down shots. When we do that, when we share the ball, we’re really tough to beat.”

At the half, the Silver Stars were complete control of the game and led 57-37. The 57 first-half points was the most in a half by San Antonio this season.

“It is hard when we get down by that much when we are not playing defense and we are on our heels offensively as well,” said Sparks forward Candace Parker who finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds. “They played a great game today and they beat us three times but we just have to move on to the next.”

The Sparks started out slow, only scoring 17 points in the first quarter.

“We have to do things differently,” said Parker in reference to the first period and the sluggish start. “Whether we have to do something before the game or warm up differently or something like that. We showed we were into it and can actually focus on the things we have to do when we played better in the second half.”

Sparks coach Carol Ross echoed those sentiments.

“I was very disappointed and the first quarter has not been very good to us lately. We are continually fighting out of a hole. I did like our energy and effort in the second half but the Silver Stars did a great job coming out and getting the game moving in their direction early. It was just another tough day at the office.”

Alana Beard and DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 14 points each for the Sparks. Milton-Jones also had six rebounds and Beard dished out 10 assists. Rookie April Sykes matched her season-high with 11 points and fellow first-year pro Nneka Ogwumike had 10 points and six rebounds.

Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes had no pat answer for his team’s success against the Sparks.

“I think we have great respect for them,” said Hughes about Los Angeles, “It’s very easy for me as a coach because the players are motivated. I really don’t know, because I look at them as a ‘hard guard’ in a lot of situations. We’re at the point in this season; we have played the 10th and 11th game and sometimes you kind of settle in to your roles and what you need to do to help your team at that point. I wish I knew. I’m real pleased that human nature didn’t take over. You play them three times that quick, but our players are very motivated. LA played well I just think we played better.”

San Antonio hosts the defending WNBA champions, the Minnesota Lynx, on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles has a week break before facing the Lynx at home next Thursday, July 5.

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