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Storm struggle to score again, rely on their defense to dampen Sparks

May 20, 2022 Updated Fri., May 20, 2022 at 9:49 p.m.

Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd passes the ball between Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes and forward Nneka Ogwumike during the second quarter of a WNBA basketball game Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd passes the ball between Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes and forward Nneka Ogwumike during the second quarter of a WNBA basketball game Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Percy Allen Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Noelle Quinn has been forced to be patient with the Storm’s sluggish offense because of unexpected absences, constant lineup changes and integrating four new players into the rotation.

“What will sustain us is our defense,” Quinn said. “We have pieces who are growing and learning. This is why when our offense isn’t clicking. … We have the personnel to carry us on defensive end.

“From Day 1, I’ve been talking about defense. Be clean and be sharp and show up and be consistent.”For the fifth straight game, the Storm had difficulty generating points, but they did just enough on defense to disrupt the Los Angeles Sparks and held on for an 83-80 victory Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena.

With the exception of Breanna Stewart, who finished with a game-high 28 points, no other Storm player was overly productive on the offensive end.

The Storm outscored Los Angeles 29-16 in the first quarter and took a 41-23 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Storm were up 51-41 at halftime and the Sparks closed to 65-58 late in the third.

Los Angeles trimmed its 70-59 deficit early in fourth to 79-77 when Stewart blew past Nneka Ogwumike for a layup to go up 81-77.

At the other end, Sparks center Ogwumike answered with a layup to make it a two-point game again.

Sue Bird drained two free throws for the Storm before Los Angeles center Liz Cambage made 1 of 2 at the line with 42.6 seconds left.

Seattle’s Jewell Loyd (11 points) had a corner 3-pointer rattle out, which set up the final play. Down three points, Ogwumike got a clean look at a corner 3-pointer, but her shot hit the rim and bounced away as time expired.

The Storm, which improved to 3-3, is 2-1 during its eight-game homestand.

Cambage finished with 25 points and Ogwumike had 20 for the Sparks (2-4), which lost their fourth straight game.

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