Los Angeles routs Seattle 102-69 to start season
The Los Angeles Sparks delivered a resounding victory in their first game of the season defeating the Seattle Storm 102-69 at the Staples Center in front of 10,090 fans. Without stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, both out for the season due to injuries, the Storm could not handle the offensive prowess of the Sparks led by Kristi Toliver’s game-high 17 points.
The Sparks fed off the energy of the crowd according to guard Lindsey Harding.
“It was great, the energy was great in the arena, the fans are into it, we were into it,” said Harding, “and I think we played really well together as a team, so this is a great starting point.”
In a balanced attack, six Sparks players finished in double figures, including all five starters. Nneka Ogwumike tallied 15 points. She shot 4-for-4 from the field and had a game-high five steals. Alana Beard added 13 points while Harding scored 12 points and dished out eight assists. Marissa Coleman had 12 points along with five rebounds and Candace Parker scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds.
For Seattle, Camille Little led with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter. Tanisha Wright and Temeka Johnson contributed 11 points and five assists each. Tina Thompson added nine points and three rebounds.
In the first quarter, the lead changed several times but at the buzzer Los Angeles led 28-20. By the half, Los Angeles widened their lead to 12, 53-41. The Sparks began their blowout of Seattle in the third quarter opening with nine straight points to begin a 24-5 run. The Sparks rallied their defense to dominate the Storm.
“I think they were disappointed in their defensive performance up to that point,” said Los Angeles head coach Carol Ross. “We were playing well offensively at the half. I think they took that toughness and grittiness that we talked about and did it.”
They scored 31 points in the third stanza to Seattle’s 12.
“It’s just one game and we have to come back and get better when we start practicing again on Tuesday,” said Storm head coach Brian Agler about the lopsided victory.
“We know what kind of team we have to be and we didn’t put it on display tonight and that’s the thing that is bothering us most right now,” he added. “Our players aren’t happy with how they played. It is what it is and we move on and get ready for next game.”
Storm guard Tanisha Wright expressed disappointment with the loss.
“This one stings,” said Wright. “In the first game out you want to have a better showing than that.”
Veteran forward Tina Thompson was optimistic about the team going forward.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Thompson, “but the good thing about it is we will do it. This team works really hard. Come Sunday we will be a lot better than we were today.”
The Sparks travel to San Antonio to face the Silver Stars next Saturday. Seattle hosts Phoenix the next day.
- Actress Jessica Alba attended the game with her husband Cash Warren. R&B singer Kenny Lattimore performed.
- All 11 Sparks players scored, with 9-of-11 shooting .500 or better.
- The game marked a new largest margin of victory for Los Angeles, surpassing its previous record of 32, defeating the now-defunct Utah Starzz on June 28, 1999.
- Tina Thompson’s start in the game marked her the 437th start in her career. She is now the WNBA career starts category leader. She already holds the top spot in points scored, field goals made and minutes played.
- It was Seattle’s worst loss in a season opener since dropping a 77-47 decision to Houston in 2000.