Just sad

Last night the playoff-bound Sparks lost to the Atlanta Dream – the team with the worst record in the league. It was a deserved loss, too, as the Sparks played like crap. It was webcast and on NBAtv, so many fans have already seen the total lack of offense on LA’s part, and the coinciding absence of defense. While the Sparks struggled and worked for every point they got, the Dream seemed to throw in shots easily, after effortless transitions.

I’m not going to rag on individual players like a lot of people are doing today, as there is plenty of blame to go around in last night’s game. I’m not going to pretend to know what the problem is with the team’s record; fans have been trying to figure that one out since the slump began in June. And I’m not going to lay out a plan for what “should” be done now; that’s up to the owners.

I’m just a bit down today.

It’s not that I had humongous expectations for the Sparks, as so many did. Both fans and non-fans were projecting the Sparks to win the WNBA title this year. I wasn’t sure if they could go that far, but I did think they’d do better than they have. That’s the core of my disappointment. I feel that for whatever reason, the Sparks have underachieved this year. And for someone raised on track and field, that’s one of the worst things that could happen in sports.

The art of middle- and long-distance races is to go out hard, but not too hard. You want to save some for the end and not die in the final stretch, but you don’t want to have too much left over, either. If you do, you’re left with a stinking pile of “what could have been”s. That’s how I feel about the Sparks this year.

There have been flashes of brilliance this season. We have seen them play like a championship team a few times, with all cylinders clicking and things running 100 percent smoothly. They have the capability to be a championship game team, but it’s not happening. That just kills me. It also doesn’t help that I really like this group of women, and that three Tennessee Volunteers who I really care about are on this team.

I didn’t have a good feeling before last night’s game, and my instincts are always right about such things. I just didn’t think that by three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, I’d be slunk down in my seat at Staples Center, head in my hand and pressed against the back of the chair, hardly able to watch the Sparks self-destruct.

If I could figure out why teams with talent sometimes can’t pull it together, I would be living in a Hollywood Hills mansion. The Dream didn’t look like a bad team at all last night, and on paper, they should be much better than they are. What happens in these cases? It’s no doubt a unique set of circumstances in each case that come together correctly, for bad results.

On the upside, it was good to see the Dream’s Betty Lennox have a good game last night. Girl deserves it.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I have a lot of sympathy. This is the way Dream fans have felt all season – “this can’t be happening/how can we be losing all of these games”.

    At least there’s still hope that the Sparks can regain their focus and turn things around. The Dream’s chances of turning things around ended months ago.

  2. Do you think the Sparks are having a “playoffs is when we play” attitude? I know that Tennessee last year did not play it’s best until the tournament where they succeeded in defending their championship. Pat Summitt even called out the team for taking plays off….

    Do you think the Sparks are doing the same?

    Or is Leslie beyond her abilities and pulling down the other players with her free throw to free throw line court coverage?

  3. It’s very possible that they have a pre-playoffs attitude, Kim, because the Sparks have always taken it up a notch for the playoffs in the past. But it’s so hard to tell right now because they haven’t been on any consistent groove since June.

    I thought when they got back from the Olympic break and won over Sac that Thursday that they were a completely different team. But that team even started to slip at the next game, in front of the legendary Pat Summitt. Fortunately they collected themselves and played well in the fourth quarter. But what happened the following Friday night in San Antonio? One of their crappiest games this season.

    I don’t know if they have the luxury right now of having a playoffs-only attitude.

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