What’s up with the Sparks?

OK, I’ll pose the question: what’s up with the Sparks?

They lost their fourth consecutive game tonight, to the Dream, 89-80. They’re 6-10 (2-8 away), and won’t make the playoffs if they keep this up. Here’s what two Sparks had to say about tonight’s game:

“We played well for about 23 seconds, but (Angel McCoughtry) hit some pretty big shots at the (shot-clock) buzzer,” Sparks center Tina Thompson said.

“We played better, but it still was not enough,” Sparks guard Ticha Penicheiro said. “We still have to figure out a way to win basketball games. We’re still not rebounding well.”

And I guess I put a curse on Delisha Milton-Jones with my recent blog about her, because she went scoreless for the second straight game tonight, after playing a season-low 13 minutes. She sat on the bench during the fourth quarter.

So what’s going on? Even non-fans of the team are wondering.

The Sparks started off the season on fire. In post-game interviews after those first few games, they all gushed about the chemistry they had found.

Then Candace Parker was injured June 26. Out for six weeks. The Sparks lost that game and have been 2-7 since.

I just posted the “what’s up” question on the Sparks board. The first respondent said the team has no depth as a result of poor trades, acquisitions and drafts for the last few years. That Parker has been carrying the team since the departure of Lisa Leslie in 2009.

I don’t know if I buy that. LA has some nice reserves in Jenna O’Hea, Ebony Hoffman and Jantel Lavender. In fact, one could argue that at least two of the teams at the top of the two conferences lack depth, too. In other words, the Sparks aren’t any worse than several of the top teams.

Nor would I necessarily buy the explanation that the team is missing Candace Parker. Sure, she is arguably their best player, and her contributions are missed. But how could a team that was crackling with the electricity of togetherness less than two months ago just fall completely apart with the loss of one?

Of course we won’t know what’s really up unless someone on the team or the staff close to the team says something. We’re not on the team so we don’t know. But many are praying and sending spirit fingers that they work it out – whatever the problem is.

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