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Sparks pound one out on the road

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Just the Facts, Ma'am: Another sterling performance from Tina Charles wasn't enough for the Connecticut Sun to pull out a comeback win, losing 74-72 to the Los Angeles Sparks. Charles had 25 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. Allison Hightower added 12 points, seven as part of a fourth-quarter surge. Kristi Toliver led four Sparks in double figures with 19 points, adding nine rebounds; Nneka Ogwumike had nine boards as well, to go with 15 points. For pounding, the flashing red light, squeaky indignation, signs, lots of traveling, and ADVENTUR!, join your intrepid and bilocational blogger after the jump.

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

No, this is not a hallucination, and no, I have not cloned myself. That would be a terrifying thought. Some things you have to do while you're still young enough not to regret them too much the next morning, so while I had the day off from work to attend the Liberty's home win against Washington, I decided to make my way across two railroads to Flushing and go up to Connecticut to see the Sparks and the Sun.

Very smart move by Golden Global, to have their sales people wearing Mohegan Sun shirts. There are also buses to Foxwoods, Mount Airy Lodge, and ResortsWorld on the same block, and people were getting confused. This is a bad thing. Also, don't sit in the guide's seat when there are lots of empty seats on the bus. That's just rude.

And of course we're going around. Why should anything try to be normal today? The gods of transit are mocking me.

Made it on time, and got to watch a fantastic game. I think the anthem singer forgot a line- the anthem seemed odd, for reasons I can't put my finger on. Nice deep voice, though.

The Sparks are really hyper. If Ivory Latta ever ends up on that team, they may actually be a viable alternative energy source. And I don't know if they've changed the shade of purple on the Sparks jerseys, but I kind of like it.

Nneka Ogwumike and one of Carol Ross's posse just wandered into Geno's. This is why I like eating after games. I still remember the corruption of Megan Frazee through chocolate chip cookies. (Oh, Nneka. The deli's the most overpriced part of the food court.)

Carol Ross's sister and some other folks showed up in purple (well, closer to lavender) (Lavender?) sparkles and taffeta, with a good half dozen tiaras among them. Bridget Pettis and Sandy Brondello got a good laugh out of them.

Has anyone informed Penny Toler that there's a dead animal on her head? Seriously, that hairpiece is an atrocity unto fashion, as were Sandy Brondello's pants. Oh, Bronds.

(O HAI Kara. Wolters, not Lawson. She's at the pizza window. I wonder if she ordered the Kara Wolters...) (And she brought Kelly Faris with her. O HAI Kelly.)

Ebony Hoffman showed off her range and her physicality, helping body Tina Charles up all night. She did commit some pretty dumb fouls and complained about those far too vociferously for my liking. Jenna O'Hea didn't really get to set up outside as much as I was expecting- if anything, she was mostly used as a defensive substitution for her height and wingspan. She drove Kelly Faris crazy late in the game when the Sun were trying to get the last two inbounds...eses. Marissa Coleman showed off some boogie moves during the entrance video, and I can't remember a darn thing she did on the actual court. I know she went into the game; I know she came out of the game. But that's all I remember.

Jantel Lavender put in work. She had the first... six, I think?.. for the Sparks and pulled them ahead in the second quarter. She put in a lot of work defensively too. Neither she nor Nneka Ogwumike is big enough to take on Tina Charles individually, but together they were entirely too much for her to be comfortable with. There was a point where it seemed like verything she shot was going in, but she cooled down in the second half; perhaps the defensive intensity was taking something out of her. Nneka Ogwumike never stopped fighting on the offensive boards. I mean never. I think she had two o-boards on the same possession twice. She and Lavender were both working the baseline well. So was Lindsey Harding. I don't remember Harding being this fast, but I have the feeling that I say that every time I see her play, if that makes any sense. She spearheaded the attack, whether it was just bringing the ball up in a hurry to initiate the offense or if she was driving to the paint for a midrange J or a lay-up. Alana Beard brought the defense and the hustle. I always knew that she was on the floor, even if she wasn't putting up the stats- she was in the scrum, she was playing defense. Kristi Toliver has icewater in her veins (though given the hyperactivity of her team, maybe it's semi-melted Icee)- twice her team needed her to hit a basket at the end of the shot clock, and twice she did. The third time, the shot was off line, but I think that was one of the ones that the Sparks tracked down. She needs to learn to keep her temper better- she got T'd for giving the ref a large piece of her mind. The folks around me referred to her as a bully for all the calls she was getting; I got them down to brat, because really. Toliver's the size of a kindergartener, how is she supposed to bully anyone?

The Sparks' dedication to rebounding was truly phenomenal. And when they're in their defensive mindset, everyone seems to play the role they were born to- the guards go low to come up with the steals, the forwards tangle on the floor, and the posts come up with big blocks and rebounds up top. All the parts fit together.

I liked Mistie Bass's skirt, but I think pretty much everyone would have liked to see her in uniform, on the floor, putting LA shots into the third row.

Kayla Pedersen has to have the world's worst luck when it comes to getting block/charge calls. Two different times she made the move to get herself in position and neither time a call was made. I think it would have been a block the first time and a charge the second time, but on general principles, the call needed to be made, period. She hustled hard, but couldn't get her shots to go down. Tan White had a brief hot streak- unfortunately, that made her decide that she was the hot hand, when she clearly wasn't. Watching her hoist ill-considered bricks was a sad, sad thing, especially from seats eight rows up from the baseline. She went after ballhandlers well, though. Kelly Faris was intense defensively, and the three she hit was huge, but I think she was in over her head, and I definitely wouldn't have had her inbounding on the last possession- with the way the Sparks were pressing the issue, she looked very flustered.

The folks with the Brazilian flag must have been heartbroken that Iziane Castro Marques didn't play.

Kalana Greene was pretty much useless. Her defense wasn't there, and she brought nothing on offense. At least Faris could shoot a little, but Greene got to thinking that she was Renee Montgomery or something. Montgomery was fast, and quick, and hit the ground an awful lot (maybe there's something about the name and number- Alex Montgomery had the same issue in the matinee). She was more effective going to the basket and trying to draw contact, though she had a huge three that got the crowd going. Kelsey Griffin took advantage of her opportunities early, but spent more time than she should standing there and watching her jumpers clang off the rim. You are a forward, Kelsey. It would behoove you to go after the rebound. That's pretty much what you start for, isn't it? Hustle plays? Allison Hightower's defense was solid through most of the game, but she wasn't able to get her shot going until the fourth quarter, when the Sparks were really putting the pressure on Tina Charles and letting everyone else take whatever came open. Hightower went to work on the left side, her strong side. I like that she doesn't tend to do stupid things. Even if she isn't contributing a lot positively, she's contributing very little negatively. Tina Charles, despite a fondness for the fadeaway that puts Cappie Pondexter to shame, put in work in the paint. She started hot and never really went cold, just settled into a steady warmth, rather like sunlight on a spring afternoon. (Yes, I'm tired and slightly loopy despite the three Diet Cokes, or perhaps because of them.) She was getting bodied up and going for boards. If this were my first Sun game, I'd understand her previously published frustrations with her teammates.

Anne Donovan, whatever gremlin told you that fuschia and orange go together lied to you. It is a bad combination and you should feel bad for wearing it.

The last couple of possessions, with the foul count the way it was, made for an interesting chess match. Ross won, but Renee Montgomery was one bounce off the back of the rim from getting the win for Connecticut.

Connecticut fans are notoriously hard on officials, but this crew was extremely disappointing, especially considering Denise Brooks. (To her credit, she did make the trickiest call of the night, catching the over-and-back committed by the Sparks on an inbounds across the length of the frontcourt into the backcourt.) There was a lot of contact that could have been called and did not appear to be called evenly. (That being said, Connecticut fans never saw a whistle on their girls that they agreed with.)

Section 19 is really the place to be if you're looking for the kind of fans I like to hang out with- loud, passionate, snarky, supportive, and merciless.

Carol Ross earned the T by going way too far out on the floor, but Amy Bonner deserved Carol Ross's wrath for the non-call. That was a vicious hit.

I missed halftime, and did not partake in Asian night (unless you count the overfried and wontonesque nature of my taco bowl).

Why is there no satellite connection in Lyme? /shakes fist angrily towards the sky

I have absolutely no regrets about pulling this double-header, though perhaps I have some about that $10 I put in the slots. This was a great game, and now I'm looking forward to the Liberty-Sparks match-up on Saturday.