Kathy Goodman: Getting your money's worth
What is it between L.A. and Seattle? L.A. has had rivalries with a lot of teams — Houston, Phoenix, Detroit — but there is nothing like when we play Seattle. L.A.’s all-time record against Seattle is 17-16; well, after tonight, 17-17. We are just two teams that, on any given night, anything can happen. I was not exactly counting on 13 ties, 12 lead changes and three overtimes though. But everyone got their money’s worth in Key Arena tonight.
Betty Lennox was recognized pre-game as one of the Storm’s “All-Decade Team,” having won the Finals MVP Trophy when the Storm won the League Championship. There was a huge ovation at Key Arena for her pre-game but a lot less love for her during the game when she scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Candace is starting to look like Candace again. Double-double, six blocks, five assists, shooting 44% from the field. Tina Thompson was as solid as ever: 22 points with a 50% field-goal percentage, showing why she deserved yet another chance to play in the All-Star Game this weekend. As a matter of fact, looking at the final stat sheet without the score, it might be hard to figure out who won. We out-rebounded the Storm; we had a higher field-goal percentage; we attempted and made more free throws; we had the same number of assists; and even though we turned over the ball more, we actually scored more points off their turnovers than they did on ours. Tanisha Wright (who really is just a better and better player every season) finally fouled out close to the end of regulation, and Lauren Jackson left the game after being assessed a second technical foul in the second overtime
So, how is it that the final score was Storm 98, Sparks 87? One stat I didn’t give you. We may have shot 42.3% from three-point range to their 43.8% (a somewhat negligible difference), but we made a total of six three-point baskets, and Sue Bird alone made seven. As a matter of fact, a bit above 40% of the Storm’s made baskets were from behind the arc, and only about 19% of ours are. No matter how many overtimes you go to, that math will never work out for you.
It didn’t start that way. The first four field goals we made in the game were three-point baskets. Sue Bird was scoreless in the first quarter. She made one basket in the second quarter. At half-time, we were shooting over 55% from three-point range and had more than twice as many rebounds as the Storm. But the game doesn’t end after 20 minutes. And I had no idea exactly how much longer it was going to go.
We played them tight. There were stretches of brilliance. But in the third overtime, the play-by-play read something like, “Bird 3 PT shot” followed by “Bird 3 PT shot” followed yet again by “Bird 3 PT shot.” She got her money’s worth and made us pay.
All-Star break this weekend and then three more road games for the Sparks before we get to come home to Staples. There’s a lot of basketball yet to be played this summer. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.
-- Kathy Goodman
Goodman is a co-owner of the Sparks.
Photo: Seattle Storm's Sue Bird (10) drives past Sparks' Noelle Quinn. Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press