SEATTLE – For a time, Candace Parker didn’t know if the Los Angeles Sparks would even be around for the 2014 WNBA season.
They still are, and so is she.
Parker scored 18 points, Alana Beard added 17, and the Sparks, whose future was uncertain after the previous owners suddenly relinquished the franchise in January, opened the season with an 80-69 victory over the Seattle Storm on Friday night.
Parker also grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists for the Sparks, who were purchased on Feb. 5 by a group that is led by former NBA star Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers controlling owner Mark R. Walter.
Jenna O’Hea led the Storm with 12 points. Sue Bird, making her return after missing the entire 2013 season to have a cyst removed from her left knee, had seven points and four assists in 24 minutes. Crystal Langhorne, a two-time All-Star acquired from Washington in a draft day trade, grabbed nine rebounds.
The Sparks trailed just twice, both times early in the first quarter. Tied at 14-14, they went on a 17-3 run bridging the first and second quarters on the way to a 43-32 halftime lead. It grew to as many as 19 points in the third quarter, and the Storm never got closer than eight after that.
In falling behind by double digits, the Storm hit just 3 of 12 in the second quarter, while the Sparks drained 10 of 18.
“We turned the ball over a lot, and you just can’t turn the ball over in this league,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said.