Game: Seattle Storm (7-8) at Los Angeles Sparks (11-6) When: 7 p.m. Saturday Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles Meeting: Fourth (Seattle 0-3) TV: ESPN2
Victim of quirky early-season scheduling, the Storm will face its nemesis, the Sparks, for the fourth time in 16 games Saturday night in Los Angeles. After an impressive 89-83 overtime road win Sunday over the Connecticut Sun, Seattle seeks to cap a four-game road trip with a 3-1 record to reach .500 for the first time this season.
The Sparks have bested their Western Conference rivals in all three match-ups this season. To pull off a mild upset, the Storm will need to take advantage of a club known to let down after big wins. LA knocked off league-leading Minnesota 96-90 Thursday but dropped previous efforts to Tulsa and San Antonio. In their losses, the Sparks’ average margin of defeat is 17.4 points per game.
With Ann Wauters and reserve Ewelina Kobryn game-time decisions because of injury, the scoring load will again be thrust on Sue Bird, who has shifted over to shooting guard in recent stretches. Bird leads Seattle with 13 points and 5.2 assists per game. She also will be saddled with shutting down LA point guard Kristi Toliver, who has dropped 25, 18 and 23 points in the teams’ three games.
- Power forward Camille Little continues to improve in her fifth season. Sunday, she finished with a career-high 27 points and nine rebounds on 10-13 shooting.
- The Storm has won six of its past seven, and have four games left before the WNBA takes a month-long hiatus for the Summer Olympics.
- The Storm is fourth in the West, three games behind LA.
- Svetlana Abrosimova, who transferred from her Russian Premier League team to Seattle a little over a week ago, is off to a slow start. Sunday, she scored her first two points of the season in five minutes of action.
- Kobryn and Wauters are listed as day-to-day. Kobryn, who is suffering from a strained hamstring, is more likely to see action Saturday night. Wauters has a slight tear in her left Achilles.
- On June 3, Nneka Ogwumike hit an off-balance runner near the buzzer to send the Sparks to a 67-65 victory over the Storm at Staples Center. The shot capped Seattle’s fourth-quarter collapse.
- LA has dropped three of its past five. Candace Parker leads the Sparks with 19.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Toliver, who started the season coming off the bench, is averaging 16.8 points and 5.1 assists per contest.
- Ogwumike is off to an impressive start to pro career, averaging nearly 14 points per game after being selected with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Coaches: Brian Agler is in his fifth season with Seattle. Carol Ross is in her first with the Sparks.
Coming Up: The Storm catch a flight home Saturday night so it can take on the Phoenix Mercury at 6 p.m. Sunday at KeyArena. The Sparks also play back-to-back, hosting the Atlanta Dream Sunday at Staples Center.
SEATTLE STORM 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS:
|5/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||L||66-72||0-1|
|5/22/12||at Los Angeles||L||74-61||0-2|
|6/3/12||at Los Angeles||L||65-67||1-4|
|6/9/12||at San Antonio||L||67-80||1-6|
|6/22/12||vs. San Antonio||W||82-76||4-7|
|6/30/12||at New York||L||59-77||6-8|
|7/7/12||at Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|8/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|8/26/12||vs. New York||—||—||—|
|9/14/12||at San Antonio||—||—||—|
|9/21/12||vs. San Antonio||—||—||—|