Storm face Sparks in rubber match of season series (Jul 24, 2017)

BY AP • July 24, 2017

Despite a 9-11 overall record, the Seattle Storm should be confident when they play defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Sparks (14-6) have lost three of their past five games. Seattle has one victory against Los Angeles this season.

The Storm beat the Sparks 81-69 on July 9 at Seattle in a game in which Los Angeles' bench outscored the Storm's reserves 22-0. In the clubs' first meeting on May 13, Los Angeles beat Seattle 78-68 at Staples.

The Tuesday game is the final contest of a four-game homestand for the Sparks. Los Angeles returns from the All-Star break three games behind the Minnesota Lynx for the best record in the league.

Los Angeles suffered an 82-80 loss to Chicago on Thursday in its last game before the break. The defeat was the first at home for the Sparks, who fell to 9-1 at the Staples Center.

"When you play a team that's hungry in this league, there's a lot of talent in this league on all of the teams, the hungriest teams are gonna win," Los Angeles coach Brian Agler said about the loss.

"I mean, Chicago is hungry. They're fighting for their lives to get in the playoffs, and they've won five of their last six games now. So they're playing well."

Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Chelsea Gray had 17 points and six assists. Gray hit a jumper that looked as if would be the game-winner until Chicago's Stefani Dolson made a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to give the Sky the win.

Los Angeles' Candace Parker had 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals in one of her most complete games of the season.

"When Candace plays in that nice flow, she's as good as there is," Agler said.

Seattle's most recent game was also a loss to Chicago, 94-83 at home on July 18. The Storm have not won back-to back games since May.

Breanna Stewart led Seattle with 25 points and 11 rebounds in the loss to the Sky, while Crystal Langhorne and Jewell Loyd each scored 16. Sue Bird had 10 points and nine assists for the Storm.

Seattle, which committed 18 turnovers to Chicago's nine in the loss, led by as many as 20 points in the opening minute of the second quarter. The Sky rallied with a 15-2 run to get back into the game and pulled within 42-41 at the half. The Sky took 76 shots in their win, 20 more than Seattle.

"What happened tonight has more to do with what's in this room than what's in their locker room," Bird said. "When they came back at us, we didn't respond well, and we let it affect us and shake us."

In the two games between Los Angeles and Seattle this season, Ogwumike led the Sparks with an average of 22 points per game while Stewart led the Storm at 26 points a game.

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