This is what I wrote after the Sparks’ 78-58 season-opening win over Detroit on Saturday:
Not sure how we’ll see a much different game on Monday, despite the Shock having home-court advantage then.
And, of course, I was right. It wasn’t much different. Once again, it was a blowout. Errr ….
OK, well, I wasn’t exactly right. How about completely not right?
Yeah, it was a blowout, but by the Shock this time, not the Sparks. Detroit turned the tables and won 81-52 behind 27 points from Deanna Nolan and 17 from Katie Smith.
Everything that looked so good about the Sparks on Saturday didn’t look so good Monday. In the rematch, LA shot 26.6 percent from the field and played ineffectual perimeter defense. One thing that was the same for LA: Lisa Leslie has struggled from the field in the two games, shooting a combined 7 of 22 thus far.
This result is one of those you see in during the WNBA season, though, where you say, “How did that happen?” and then, after thinking about it for a little while, you say, “Well, of course that happened.”
Detroit is a veteran squad, and the players were irritated and embarrassed at their performance in LA. They received their 2008 championship rings Monday, and no doubt had spent the previous 24 hours or so thinking about having gotten their tails kicked by the Sparks.
Depleted as the roster is with injuries to Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson and the suspension of Kara Braxton, the Shock has in Nolan/Smith the best scoring perimeter tandem since Cynthia Cooper/Sheryl Swoopes of the (unfortunately) former Houston Comets.
Nolan is like Cooper in the sense that when she is really on her game, there just isn’t any defense for her. She gets what she gets, and as an opponent you hope to keep the others at least partially in check. The Sparks didn’t do that Monday, nor did their offense click.
Two games into the season, we saw the Sparks and Shock – preseason favorites to meet for the WNBA title – bring out the best and worst in each other. Now that “series” is over for the regular season, a scheduling quirk that will leave us for the rest of the summer judging these two teams based on how they do against common foes.
And wondering what will happen if they meet again.