Storm hold Sparks to season-low point total, cruise to victory

SEATTLE (AP) -- Sue Bird scored 18 points and Lauren Jackson added 14 for the Seattle Storm, who extended their winning streak to six games by beating the Los Angeles Sparks 70-52 Saturday night.

The Storm (14-7) had four players in doubles figures. Sheryl Swoopes had 13 points, and Swin Cash added 12. Yolanda Griffith was the only Storm starter not to reach double figures, but she pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds as the Seattle dominated the boards, 47-29.

Rookie star Candace Parker led the Sparks (12-8) with 14 points, making 6 of 14 shots. She came in averaging 18.7 points.

DeLisha Milton-Jones, recently added to the U.S. Olympic team, scored 11 points. Lisa Leslie had just nine points for Los Angeles on 2-of-10 shooting, but pulled down 11 rebounds.

Seattle, with the league's leading defense, forced the Sparks into 20 turnovers that led to 19 points.

"After the first serves of the game, they came out and got us in transition a couple possessions. Then we hunkered down a bit and made some stands," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "They missed some open looks, but I think we had something to do with that."

The Storm kept Los Angeles to its season-low point total. The Sparks' previous low came Thursday in an 87-69 loss at Sacramento.

"At first, we were scrambling [on defense]," Bird said, "but we finally figured it out. We were controlling the boards and we weren't giving them a lot of second shots."

Sparks coach Michael Cooper said the Storm's huge advantage on the boards made the difference.

"As Pat Riley used to say, 'No rebounds, no rings,'" Cooper said. "We knew the only way they could beat us is to out-rebound us -- not just from their bigs, but from the point guard to the bench. You've either got to box out, and if you don't want to box out, you've got to go get the basketball."

Up 38-37 midway through the third quarter, the Storm closed the period on a 14-6 scoring run, including a buzzer-beating putback by Griffith, to take a 52-43 lead into the final 10 minutes.

It was 54-45 early in the fourth when Seattle put together a 9-1 run, pushing its lead to 63-46. The Sparks never got within single digits the rest of the way.

Los Angeles had a nine-point lead early in the second quarter, but the Storm wiped that out with a 19-4 surge.

"I don't know what it was, but we've got to fix it," Parker said. "None of us really shot the ball well. We didn't really get into our offense effectively and efficiently. When you're not shooting the ball well, you need offensive rebounds and putbacks, and we didn't have that."

Los Angeles shot just 34 percent (18 of 53) and had just seven offensive rebounds, leading to seven second-chance points. Seattle hit only 39.4 percent (28 of 71), but pulled down 18 offensive boards that produced 19 second-chance points.

Jackson said the game between the longtime rivals had a postseason tinge to it.

"It was a really emotional win for us. It felt like a playoff game," she said. "Just losing to them earlier on [76-62 at Los Angeles on June 24] really sparked us."

The game featured five players who will be in next month's Beijing Olympics. Parker, Leslie and Milton-Jones of Los Angeles will play for the United States, as will Seattle's Bird.

Jackson will play for Australia. This was Jackson's last WNBA game until after the Olympics. Seattle will be without the two-time league MVP for five games.

"We have two or three different directions we can go. It will depend on who were playing," Agler said. "In the back of my mind, I haven't been looking forward to this day. But I'm real confident with the group we have."

The six straight wins ties a franchise record for Seattle, also accomplished during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. All six wins have been by double-figure margins.