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Storm spoil Sparks' home opener

A strong first half was not enough for the Los Angeles Sparks, as they fell to the Seattle Storm and their superior second half play.

Photo by Neil Enns/Seattle Storm

Eight days ago, the Los Angeles Sparks opened their season on the road against their head coach Brian Agler's former team, the Seattle Storm. Today, the Sparks played their home opener against the very same team yielding the same result, a loss.

Both teams coming off of a loss looked to earn a victory tonight and a game between these two teams is always a fight.

The Sparks came out with a lot of energy, excited to be at home, and looking for redemption against the Storm. It was all Los Angeles in the first half, as Seattle struggled to score and were just a step slower, amidst the tough Sparks defense.

Jantel Lavender jumped out to a great start with 6 points and 5 rebounds in the 1st quarter, as her team shot 52.6% from the field.

In the second quarter, the Storm struggled mightily, as the Sparks took their defense to another notch, causing the Storm to shoot 18.2% from the field. After a rough shooting first half, Seattle found themselves trailing by 10 points, 24-34 at halftime.

And even with Nneka Ogwumike out of the lineup, the Sparks' balanced scoring contributed to their first half lead.

Seemingly, it was a tale of two halves, as the Storm were able to regroup and come out strong in the third quarter.

Alana Beard felt that in the second half the Sparks had "a lack of focus on the defensive end. We had a 10-point lead at half time, because we played defense and stuck to the scout, but defensively in the second half it was a totally different story."

Agler felt the same as Beard in regards to their defensive play in the second half.

"Our defensive intensity dropped a little bit," said Agler. "I think Seattle had some things to do with that."

The star of the night, Abby Bishop, was huge for the Storm especially in the third, scoring 8 of her 18 points -- and sparking (no pun intended) a run for her team.

"I just went out there and continued to shoot," said Bishop. "I made a couple and ended up making a few more and the girls got me the ball, but I was shooting with confidence so that always helps.

As the Storm warmed up offensively and defensively, the Sparks cooled off shooting a low 26.7% from the field allowing the Storm to close the gap to just a four point lead heading into the fourth.

Seattle had all of the momentum going into the final stanza, but the Sparks still held the lead 46-42. Los Angeles led the entire game until Bishop knocked down a three-point shot, which gave the Storm a three-point lead. Jewel Loyd provided a nice lift off of the bench, scoring 6 points in the fourth including a nice reverse layup assisted by Jenna O'Hea.

With Los Angeles struggling to make baskets -- while turning the ball over six times in the fourth -- their lead slipped away. Even though Sue Bird remained scoreless until the fourth quarter, the Storm had many other players step up for a team win.

Coach Jenny Boucek was pleased with the Storms play on the defensive end.

"Anytime you get a win on the road, it's a huge accomplishment," said Boucek. "LA is a great team, and I am glad we got two games out of the way with them."

The victory for Seattle moved them to 2-2 on the season as the Sparks dropped to 0-2 still searching for their first win.