The Seattle Storm snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday defeating the Los Angeles Sparks 85-77 in dramatic, come from behind fashion. The victory coming in large part from the outstanding performances of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird in the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively.
The first period belonged exclusively to the Sparks as they stifled Seattle's offense, holding the Storm to just 13 points in the period while putting up 24 of their own, including seven from Jantel Lavender and six from Candace Parker.
"We were playing together in the first half," said Parker of her teams early performance. "Offensively, we were locked in."
The second quarter, however, the Storm found their rhythm and an offensive answer in the form of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis who exploded for 12 of her career-high 15 points over an eight-minute span that would see Seattle claw back to within five.
The third overall pick put on a clinic scoring in seemingly every way imaginable. Her most impressive basket, coming after Candace Parker blocked one of her three-point attempts into the third row. With the Storm retaining possession, Mosqueda-Lewis used a beautiful pump fake, step through, a left-handed floater to score around the former MVP.
Despite Mosqueda-Lewis' helping to cow the Storm back within five, LA would answer with an 8-0 run to close out the first half and take a 48-35 lead into the break.
The second half would see another Seattle rookie come alive as Jewell Loyd, who had been held scoreless in the first half, poured in 11 of her 15 points in the third period.
"We couldn’t get stops," explained Sparks head coach Brian Agler. "[Seattle] got to the interior of our defense and Jewell Loyd hit some baskets. That forced us to help against her and [leave their] shooters. There were some 50-50 balls that we didn’t get. When the games in the balance, those 50-50 balls are the difference makers. "
Led by Loyd, Seattle would cut LA's early, 16-point third quarter lead to just five entering the game's final frame.
Seattle would control the fourth behind the performance of Sue Bird, who scored seven of her 15 points in the final 4:35.
"Honestly, everybody on our team who played in the game made clutch plays for us," Bird stated after the win. "It’s just the resiliency that this team has that helped us win."
Despite the great play from Bird, the Sparks managed to stay in front until the 4:00 mark when Bird hit a three to put Seattle up 72-71. LA would tie the game at 74 apiece with 2:51 to go, but Crystal Langhorne, who finished with 18 points, answered with a layup on the next possession.
Parker missed a jumper that would have drawn LA even leading to a three-pointer from Jenna O'Hea off an assist from none other than Bird that put the game out of reach.
"We just kept fighting until the end. [The Sparks] are a great team," said Langhorne of the victory. "We made our runs and made stops when we needed to."
Four Seattle players reached double figures, led by the 18 points and six rebounds of Langhorne. Bird, Loyd, and Mosqueda-Lewis each finished with 15 apiece.
The Sparks were led by the 22 points and seven rebounds of Lavender and the near triple double from Parker, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Nneka Ogwumike added 16 points and five rebounds in the loss.
The game drastically shakes up the Western Conference playoff race as the Sparks now hold just a half-game lead over San Antonio and a single game lead over Seattle for the fourth and final playoff spot.