August 2, 2020 

Slow start plagues Sparks again

Another game, another slow start for the Los Angeles Sparks

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Candace Parker #3 of the Los Angeles Sparks handles theball while Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm plays defense on August 1,2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo byStephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

Another game, another slow start for the Los Angeles Sparks. It’s been the theme for the Sparks the past couple of games, and they couldn’t get over the hump as they fell to the Seattle Storm, 81-75, on Saturday night.

It’s been a troubling trend for Los Angeles lately that culminated with the loss to the Storm. The Sparks found themselves down 27-16 at the end of the first quarter, and 45-29 at the half. They made a run in the second half to pull within three points but weren’t able to pull off the comeback.

After the game, Candace Parker acknowledged that the team has been discussing how to prevent these slow starts from continuing.

“We talked about it, but talking is one thing, we got to go out there and do it,” Parker said. “Our second unit is coming in, the Chicago game, this game, the Connecticut game even, and doing a good job of bringing us back but then we exert all our effort getting back in the game and I don’t know if we have enough to get over the hump.”

The Sparks bench has continued to be one of the most encouraging signs of the season thus far. It was the second unit that got the team back in the game against Chicago, regained the lead against Connecticut, and sliced into Seattle’s lead.

Seimone Augustus has been at the forefront of the bench effort and she had another strong game with 12 points. Rookie Te’a Cooper also gave the team some solid minutes at backup point guard. Despite the inability to finish the comeback, Sparks head coach Derek Fisher was optimistic about what he saw from the team’s resiliency amid playing every other day since the season began.

“We did learn that our team does have a level of character and fight in it and we just have to build how long we can do it,” Fisher said. “We talked a lot about how we can best manage this week to get through with still a healthy team. To our players’ credit, they’re playing games without real game legs and an inability to really practice at a level that allows you to build endurance and stamina.”

One other aspect that the Sparks have to manage this being able to integrate all the new players they have on the team. The majority of the second unit who’s been the team’s strength is comprised of several new additions. Everyone from Augustus to Cooper, to Brittney Sykes, to Reshanda Gray, all saw important minutes in the second half against the Storm.

With only four games under their belt, Nneka Ogwumike believes that the chemistry is coming along well and that the team is only now starting to get a real feel for each other.

“I think things are starting to soak in. In these four weeks, not only are we trying to learn each other, but most importantly we’re trying to acclimate to what this season is, as are all the other teams,” Ogwumike said. “So you can imagine, doing that on a team where half of your teams is basically new, it’s going to be a different type of development of chemistry. I feel as though right now, we are really understanding ourselves better, and hopefully with the different rotations we’ve been able to see in this first week, we can start understanding exactly how we can work as one big machine.”

David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.

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