Sparks 78, Shock 58

Both teams got off to a slow start today, but Sparks guard Betty Lennox ignited her new team with two quick baskets from the left corner, and two steals. Then Tina Thompson started getting into the act. Between them, they were ridiculous; Lennox with her quick drives, and Thompson with her long, sweet shots. Lennox finished with 17 and Thompson, 18.

Noelle Quinn came in at the end of the first quarter and hit two quick jumpers. Then at the start of the second quarter, Vanessa Hayden started doing damage with two baskets of her own. Her second bucket put the Sparks up 30-18 at 8:19, and LA never looked back.

Deanna Nolan (15 points) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (12 points) tried hard for the Shock, but the Sparks are just so deep this year. Starting point guard Kristi Harrower, 35, was even blocking shots if she wasn’t stealing the ball. LA lead 51-29 at the half.

The third quarter was worrisome, as Nolan began with a 3, and the Sparks looked sluggish. Visions of last season started popping into my head, but in the fourth quarter, guard Marie Ferdinand-Harris came off the bench and started hitting. She looks much more sharp than last year, and finished with 7. Hayden had 12 and Quinn, 8. Lisa Leslie didn’t have her best game, finishing with 6 points.

Overall, I was very pleased. Last year’s Sparks had trouble playing 40 minutes because they couldn’t hang, and one minute they’d be there and the next, they wouldn’t. Today I saw a similar lapse, but it wasn’t because the Sparks weren’t capable, as was the case last year. It felt like they are still learning each other and the systems. If they can kick the crap out of the defending champions with a half-staff Lisa Leslie and no Candace Parker, just think of what the end of the season will be like.

I get chills.

For now, the Sparks really need to work on boxing out. That’s the only thing that was really glaring to me and those in my section. The offense is coming right along, and the defense isn’t far behind it.

At the end of the first quarter, Thompson and Shock forward Plenette Pierson went down under the basket in an incident that was freakishly similar to an injury Pierson sustained in a game last season. And just like last year, there is now a “controversy” around who was at fault and who did what to whom.

You be the judge

It’s too bad that some always like to assume the worst about others, and that bad intentions are the norm. But what would sports be without some drama? It’s part of the reason why some watch.

Quote of the day from thesixthwoman, on twitter: “Why does Plenette keep getting flipped over?”

I wonder that too.

On the Farmers uniforms, I guess I don’t care. I sit in the eighth row, so when you’re watching them play, you’re not looking at the name on the jersey. The team shop was still selling stuff that said “Sparks” on it today, so I’m happy.

Cute moment: late in the game, a Shock player was at the line for a free throw. Former college teammates Bobbitt and Alexis Hornbuckle leaned toward each other, shoulders together, and said a few words. I tried to catch it on camera, but the second shot fell and they were off again.

My thought: Go Betty! So nice to have you in the house, girl. Thompson too. By the way, Lennox is 32 and Thompson, 34.

My other thought: It was great to see everyone again, from the other Staples Center regulars to the ushers to the staffers. The first day of WNBA season is always like a family reunion. Lotsa hugs.

Barring major injuries, I don’t see anyone else beating the Sparks for the big trophy with the ball on top this year.

Kiesha Brown isn’t there to lead the “whoops” in the tunnel anymore, but they did allright on their own today.

Delisha Milton-Jones takes a shot while Betty Lennox cuts to her spot.

Candace Parker makes her entrance during team warmups. Wherever she goes, people ask, “where’s the baby?” It’s kinda dumb when you think about it. The baby is only 24 days old.

CP gives somebody a hug.

Before the game, Sparks co-owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson gathered a group of Lovedy Brydon’s friends and family on the court to pay tribute to the long-time Sparks and UCLA fan, who died April 26. In the spot where she used to sit, at the back of my section, was her wheelchair, decorated for the occasion.

Bruins Erica Tukianien and Moniquee Alexander strode up to the Staples Center in their bold blue jackets about 10:45 a.m. They are very friendly, and made their way around the arena saying hello to fans. UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell and assistant coach Tasha Butts were also there.

Claims were made on the rebkell message board that Sparks fans were cheering Shock forward Plenette Pierson’s injury. LA fans are entirely too quiet and complacent for my taste, and I didn’t hear any of that. But they did boo Shock Coach Bill Laimbeer, who strode over to where Pierson was lying on the floor (above), took a look and then doubled back and approached Sparks Coach Michael Cooper to give him a piece of his mind.

I wouldn’t have done that.

The new trend of all the coaches huddling to talk before they talk to the team gives teammates/friends a chance to giggle.

CP and TT are homies.

And they even do the serious faces together.

During second half play. Yes, just about everyone hooks arms at some point during games.

Shannon Bobbitt (far left) and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (near right) got in at the end of the game, and each had some nice moves.

The last huddle of the game was very animated, with Lennox and Bobbitt doing all of the talking and gesturing. (It’s a Sagittarius thing)

Box score

Sparks preview story

5 COMMENTS

  1. I thought the Sparks played a pretty good game overall. They have some work to do, but I enjoyed what I saw.

    As far as Plenette, I would disagree that Tina would intentionally try to hurt someone, as Laimbeer flat out stated. I think Plenette tries to bully and ultimately loses. She tied Tina up with both hands, before Tina jumped awkwardly and then came down off balance. Never did I see Plenette try to disengage. I don't like that she got hurt, but had it been the other way around and TT got hurt, the Rebkell junkies would have said she caused it to herself. Haters!! It took one game for them to now label TT as a thug. If you are playing in LA, you gotta get labelled…. Oh well.

    G

  2. Beautifully stated, G.

    If Pierson keeps getting flipped over, what does that tell us about her? That she keeps setting herself up/doing the same things that predispose her to the same injury.

    I was shaking my head at the thread. Some people can't/won't let go of the whole "LA thug" thing. Sure they used to be thugs in 2001 and 2002, but they aren't anymore. People like to cling to the past and nurse old hatreds long past the point of relevancy. It's this kind of thinking: "I've always hated UCLA, and I always will." Without considering who the actual people are at those institutions that they claim to hate.

    But the people that won't let go of stuff are the ones who die early or get diseases.

    I met TT on Media Day (check out the "Sparks preview story" below) and addressed the supposed rivalry between herself and LL. She said it was a media/fan fabrication and they've always gotten along well. This didn't surprise me one bit.

    Fans like to create drama and assume things/make up stuff when they don't know what's really going on. The reality is usually far from what they think it is. That's why I don't visit rebkell as much as I used to. Too much fabricated drama, unfounded assumptions and hatred-filled judgement. Who needs all that negativity?

  3. oh, please. without getting into who was/wasn't at fault, with pp's history, if she had flipped tt, everybody would be calling for her expulsion from the league; you are mistaken if you think pp is a darling of the rebkell board. and as long as coop is at the helm, lll and dnasty are on the team, the label of the sparks as being 'thugs' is gonna hang around. who knows, maybe it always will.

    but serioulsy, the same thing is said about the shock. get over it.

    otoh, loved b-money yesterday. like i said before, she's gonna put a world of hurt on teams this year. yesterday was vintage betty. driving to the basket, picking herself up off the floor, making a quick steal. way to go, betty!!!

    had to chuckle at coop's comment on betty: 'she's always in killer mode.' that's so true, but in this instance, its in a good way. LOL

    scullyfu

  4. You know if anyone flips someone intentionally then they should be addressed by the league. I simply disagree that it was an intentional act, it was a tough play and unfortunately she got hurt. I hope she heals fully.

    If LA are thugs then the Shock are straight up gangstas, lead by a man who told his team to go out there and "do anything you want." And who actually shouted to Lisa to watch out. But he would have been the 1st one crying to the officals if one of his players acted out and got tossed. Just more to add to his incessant whining.

    The bottom line is it is a game and people are going to go toe to toe and sometimes get hurt. It does not mean there is ill intention or malice. Tina stated in today's Times she has never intentionally hurt or committed a hard foul on someone and I believe her.

    G

  5. Take it easy, scully. No one ever said Pierson was the darling of any board, rebkell or not.

    G, I read the comment and I believe her too – especially after interviewing her a few weeks ago.

LEAVE A REPLY