Nneka did not come out of the locker room. Apparently she has a bad back. Lavender starts 2nd half in her place.— Tanya Ollick (@tollick) May 17, 2014
The L.A. Sparks got a convincing 80-69 win over their rivals from Seattle last night, but it might have come with a small cost as All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike didn't play in the second half.
After scoring a relatively easy layup against the Storm's Noelle Quinn with 5:52 left in the second quarter, Ogwumike looked to be signaling for a sub and holding her back. After laboring up and down the floor, for the next couple of trips she was replaced by Farhiya Abdi with 5:19 left in the first half and never returned.
As a silver lining for Sparks fans, the win showed what an advantage the team's depth will be over their Western Conference opponents.
"Really just handing adversity," Sparks coach Carol Ross said when asked about what her team did well last night. "Being able to weather the Seattle crowd, weather the Seattle run in the fourth quarter, weather our post player going out and other people stepping up, were probably the keys."
Reserves Sandrine Gruda and Jantel Lavender filled in for Ogwumike in the second half, with Lavender starting the half and Gruda seeing a about twice as many minutes as she did in the first. Although Gruda struggled as a scorer (1-for-5) in her first game back in the WNBA after a few years away, Lavender had a solid game with 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Didnt like Sparks' D down the stretch. Got a little lazy. But they won w/o Nneka, proving how deep they r this yr. #WNBA— WNBA Jones (@WNBAJones) May 17, 2014
Although back injuries can sometimes linger, Ogwumike might be ok with a day of rest before the Sparks' home opener against the Mercury on Sunday.
For more on the Sparks' win, check out our recap.