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LA Sparks in a Storm Lose Home Opener

Photo credit: Nick Koza

Photo credit: Nick Koza

By Johnni Matthews

Home openers for the Los Angeles Sparks bring back a lot of memories at Staples Center over the past 18 years of coverage.

The Sparks just as many WNBA teams are rebuilding their organizations to maintain their role as one of the marquee summer attractions for female professional sports.

Photo credit: Nick Koza

Photo credit: Nick Koza

The LA Sparks had great fan support for the 2015 Home opener against the Seattle Storm at Staples Center.  Owner, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, Cookie were sitting courtside with another Laker legend, Kobe Bryant at Staples Center to support the LA Sparks.

Season ticket holder, Producer/Actress Vivica Fox was also at courtside supporting the LA Sparks in the home opener against the Seattle Storm.

The Sparks started the game with a lot of energy feeding off of the Staples Center fans.  New Head Coach, Brian Agler who was the Storm’s Head Coach for seven WNBA seasons is very familiar with the players, but was unable to get a victory against his former team dropping the second game in eight days 60-54 to them.

Playing without star player, Nneka Ogwumike, and welcoming back home veteran, Temeka Johnson a former LA Spark fan favorite and feisty point guard!

With all the new faces on the Sparks team, it may take a few more games before the team gels the way Coach Agler expects.

The Sparks were in control of the game most of the first half shooting nearly fifty percent from the field while the Storm shot a low 33% from the field.  The Sparks took a ten point lead into halftime while holding Seattle Storm’s All-Star, Sue Bird scoreless.  The 34-24 halftime lead dwindled in the third quarter as the Sparks began to turn the ball over and take tough shots leading to a poor second half performance.

Photo credit: Nick Koza

Photo credit: Nick Koza

The Sparks finished the game shooting 38.6% while the Storm didn’t burn the nets shot 38.9% from the field.  The slight field goal percentage in the second half proved to be enough to squeak out the 60-54 victory.

Sue Bird didn’t score until 6:50 seconds left in the game, but she was able to bring the Storm within two points before taking the lead at 4:43 mark on back to back baskets by Abby Bishop who led the Storm with 18 points and the team was able to secure the victory.

Veteran, Alana Beard said, “We just lost our focus in the second half and we came up short tonight.”  Beard also noted there were several positive times the team executed properly and stuck to the scouting reports, so there are things to build on and correct in order for the team to be better the next game.

Sparks forward, Jantel Lavender led the team in scoring with 12 points while Alana Beard and Erin Phillips added 10 each.

Well, the next game is a short turn-around when the Sparks welcome the Minnesota Lynx to Staples Center on Tuesday, June 16th.  The game tips off at 7:30 p.m.

 

IS NBA TROPHY COMING BACK TO CALI?

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By Johnni Matthews

Warriors win Game 5 outright take 3-2 …Cavs DEPLETED!

The Golden State Warriors may be labeled the “Young Spurs” of the league after winning Game 5 of the NBA Finals 104-91 against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena in front of their home crowd!  The Warriors were the team with consistent energy all game along as the Cavaliers played a valiant game for three plus quarters to keep it interesting, but were completely depleted midway in the fourth quarter.

League MVP, Stephen Curry saved his best game for this pivotal Game 5 scoring 17 of his team high 37 points in the fourth quarter.  Curry was aggressive for forty eight minutes sensing his counterpart, Cavaliers point guard, Matthew Dellavedova is just out of gas with the number of minutes played in the series to this point.  Dellavedova could only contribute 5 points on offense.   Playing at home made it easier for Curry to get help from his teammates too. Four players scored in double figures while Warriors’ Finals MVP to date, Andre Iguodala starting only his second game the entire season played big again scored 14 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and gave out seven dimes plus 2 steals and playing tough defense on the best player in the world, LeBron James who scored his second triple double of this NBA Finals and his sixth in his NBA Finals career.  James finished the game with 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists!

LeBron James and his supporting cast played the Warriors tough for 3 ½ quarters, but the short rotation and high minutes for the Cavaliers starters took its toll midway through the fourth quarter when the Warriors scored back to back three pointers by the Splash Brothers, Curry and Thompson!  There were mental lapses by the Cavs particularly the King.  With less than 30 seconds remaining before halftime, James bringing the ball into the front court was called for an eight second call, and then he picked up a foul after Harrison Barnes slams a follow up miss by Curry with 3.2 seconds left before the half.  Cavaliers went down double digits at halftime.

At the 6:47 mark in the fourth quarter, the back to back three pointers by the Warriors put them ahead 85-80 and the Warriors never looked back.  They were able to stretch the lead and keep the momentum to control the game and take control of the series.

The Warriors can close the series out on the road in Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday, June 16 at 6 p.m. (EST).  If the Warriors are successful in Cleveland on Tuesday, then the Larry O’Brien Trophy comes back to CALI!

Banning resident, Derron Smith, drafted to the NFL

Derron Smith

Derron Smith

By Naomi K. Bonman

The NFL Draft took place this past weekend from Thursday, April 30 to Saturday, May 2. Young men from all across the Nation seen their dreams of playing for the NFL unfold before their eyes, including Banning resident and Fresno State alumni, Derron Smith, 23. Smith was included in the third day of draft picks where he was picked to join the Cincinnati Bengals as Starting Safety.

Smith finished his college football career with 297 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 33 passes defensed—15 of which he intercepted. He was also the 11th player in school history at Fresno State to be named to the all-conference team three times. Smith is the cousin to the editor of the Westside Story Newspaper, Naomi K. Bonman.