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Storm not letting guard down against Parker-less Sparks even with Bird's return

It's perfectly reasonable for Seattle Storm fans to approach point guard Sue Bird's injury with caution and suggest that coach Brian Agler should sit her again as they face the 4-11 Los Angeles Sparks, who are without star forward Candace Parker.

However, Lauren Jackson is having none of that.

"Personally, I want her to play," said Jackson. "I think Sue is just an amazing player - look, she's like the backbone of this team, really. So it's so much harder playing without her. But like [Tanisha Wright] stepped up so much for her last game. But when you're missing Sue, you're missing a huge part of your team, regardless of whether you win, lose, or whatever. We're not going to get wins like without Sue, if we don't have her for a period of time. So I want her to play, personally."

OK then, so that's settled. But at full strength against a less than full strength Sparks team, the Storm aren't letting their guard down either.

Although the team was loose after practice on Friday -- they were busy shooting half court shots to conclude practice while we conducted media interviews -- they're not letting their early season success go to their head.

"I actually watched them play a little last night against San Antonio," said Swin Cash after practice yesterday. "They're still a really good team. We just don't want to open up that can of worms -- we just wanna go down there, play hard, stay in the game, and win one on the road."

One of the things that changes without Parker on the Sparks is that the Storm will have to defend a different type of team: as optimistic Sparks fans might have hoped, the Sparks are moving the ball better without Parker in the lineup, according to Storm coach Brian Agler.

"I think they're playing pretty good," said Agler. "They had a big win yesterday. They've been on a long road trip without her where they've played real well. Obviously, they like to play through Parker at the four so now the ball moves more. And even though Candace puts tremendous pressure on your defense, they apply pressure on your defense differently now -- they put five people on the floor that can shoot threes."

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