Three Takeaways: Sparks 68, Storm 60

The Los Angeles Sparks edged the Seattle Storm at home on Tuesday night at Staples Center. All 12 WNBA teams were in action for the first time post-All-Star break. Jantel Lavender and Riquna Williams starred off the bench for LA, combining to score 25 points; Seattle got just two points from its bench.

Essence Carson did not play due to an elbow strain. Odyssey Sims started in her place. Both teams shot below 40%, but the Sparks separated themselves on the offensive glass (+9) and in the turnover battle (SEA: 18, LA: 11).

Takeaways from a busy Tuesday night:

 Credit Photos Astrud Reed/T.G.Sportstv1

Credit Photos Astrud Reed/T.G.Sportstv1

Stars setting screens

This has nothing to do with screens, but you’re about to see that Candace Parker is involved in the play you are about to see. From that point on, Parker played the rest of the way with five fouls. (That had to be included somewhere.)

This sideline out-of-bounds set led to a Nneka Ogwumike lay up to put the Sparks up 8 inside 5:00.

That’s tough to guard. Even with Breanna Stewart pressed up into her in a corner, Parker is able to deliver just about any pass. The inbounder (Chelsea Gray) and Ogwumike then just screen for each other. Ogwumike sees her defender, Crystal Langhorne, leaning toward the high side and bolts to the rim. Parker hits her in stride. We’ll call that the split action of the night.

Next, we see Stewart finding an easy one inside after slipping a screen:

Stewart brought the ball up the floor and set a double screen for Sue Bird with Langhorne. Ogwumike stunted quickly at Bird to discourage that pass, opening the window for Stewart to make the cut.

Watch that back one more time and just focus on Bird. She had no chance of being open. Odyssey Sims was glued to her and avoided both screens with ease. That leads us to…

Navigating Seattle screens

The Storm will nickel and dime you all day if you fail to navigate screening actions. Seattle runs a decent amount of floppy. Sims and Riquna Williams did a really nice job Tuesday to stick to Seattle’s guards, switch, or trail them well enough to prevent easy catch and shoot looks:

Beat ’em up on the boards

Lavender and Parker pulled down four offensive rebounds apiece; the Sparks had 13 as a team. Pair that with a win in the turnover battle, and you’ll understand why the Sparks got up 16 more shots than the Storm did.

The Sparks got some of those offensive rebounds by just being in the right place at the right time. But you’ll also see that Parker, Lavender and even their All-Star point guard are really good at carving out position ahead of time on the weak side:

The league MVP also stuck around after a late clock attempt in crunch time to put her own miss back in:

WNBA action resumes Friday. All 12 teams will be in action once again.

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