Kathy Goodman: Road woes continue
The Sparks started their game Thursday against the No. 1 team in the East, the Indiana Fever, so strong, with back-to-back three-pointers from Tina Thompson, who picked up where she left off Tuesday against the Tulsa Shock. Marie Ferdinand-Harris dropped in a third three-pointer in the first 3½ minutes, and the Sparks were up, 11-4. We held on to that lead until the Fever settled down and its outside shots started falling, and then Indiana came back, ending the first quarter up by one. That was fine with me -- being down by only one point after the first quarter in the home arena of the No. 1 team in the East meant that we were playing really hard.
In the second quarter, we played even harder. Our shots were not falling, but we were keeping Indiana from scoring. Ticha Penicheiro stepped up for five of her eight points in the game in the second quarter. Noelle Quinn hit her first basket, a three-pointer, and we pushed on Indiana hard enough to hold a one-point lead going into halftime.
If only the game had ended there. But we had a second half to play, and I feared the Sparks' third quarter.
My fears appeared well-founded at first. We opened the third with five consecutive turnovers and our only saving grace was that the Fever was having shooting woes of its own. At the 8:36 mark in the third, Tammy Sutton-Brown connected on free throws to give Indiana a four-point lead, but for the next 2½ minutes, the score remained fixed at 36-40, until Quinn made a three-pointer that triggered an 8-1 run by the Sparks. When the Sparks took a 44-41 lead after a stagnant opening to the half, I got excited. But the Fever fought back and with the exception of a free throw by Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, we did not score another point in the quarter. A hook shot by Ebony Hoffman set off a 15-1 run by the Fever that included three three-pointers, and Indiana had broken the game open.
The fourth quarter for the Sparks started worse than the third did. Down by 11, the Sparks didn’t score a point until 3½ minutes in (on free throws by Penicheiro) and didn’t score a field goal until there was 3:46 left in the game. That is no way to mount a comeback. In the meantime, the Fever had gone on a 12-2 run (a 27-3 run overall, including their run to end the third quarter) and we just didn’t have anything to respond with, or the time to do it in. Indiana wrapped up the game easily from there and won 76-57.
We have three more games on this trip. I hope they worked out the travel fatigue Thursday, but the WNBA schedule is not kind to us over the next nine days, as we fly east to Connecticut on Friday for a game Saturday, back to the Midwest to Minnesota on Tuesday and then back to New York one more time for a game next Friday. With only one win on the road so far this season, we will need to use everything we have to be focused and ready for the next week and a half.
-- Kathy Goodman, co-owner of the L.A. Sparks