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.
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.
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.