While Storm PF Lauren Jackson played one of her best games of her career, coach Brian Agler admitted to some flaws in the two-point win against Los Angeles on Friday.
Agler played four of his starters 34-plus minutes, feeling sketchy about his rotations. The Storm led the matchup by 16 points, but a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter led to the close finish.
“I thought we played a real solid game,” Agler said. “But we’re going to have to make some adjustments here, more from my end than the players. The players are playing well, we’ve just got to try to create some more time and minutes for people.”
C Janell Burse was a big free agent signing in the offseason, but she played 13 minutes as starter Camille Little suffered through foul trouble, fouling out in the fourth. Agler didn’t play C Ashley Robinson and mentioned PG Shannon Johnson and F Katie Gearlds as players he needs to get back in the rotation.
“You get in a tight game like that and you get a feel for who you want in the game and sometimes that feel is not always correct,” Agler said. “They [the starters] got tired, but they also dug pretty deep and made some plays.”
The kicker was a timeout Agler called with five seconds remaining in the game, Bird with possession of the ball, and a confused Sparks team preparing to scrambled back on defense. The break allowed LA to regroup and eventually led to a shot attempt by PF Tina Thompson that could have put the game into overtime.
Instead, SF Swin Cash stripped the ball, handing the Sparks a fifth consecutive road loss.
“I did not want that timeout, that was my fault,” Agler said. “I felt really bad about that. I should have waited to see what they [LA] was going to do. Because we had turned it over a couple of times against the press, I didn’t want to take that chance. Fortunetly we hit a free throw and stopped them from scoring.”
Storm PG Sue Bird made it a positive, saying the team learned a valuable lesson it can draw from if in the situation in the future.
“It was miscommunication,” Bird said. “I don’t know that Brian saw that the ball got inbounded. Eight times out of ten, that’s probably going to be a situation for a timeout, it just so happened that I don’t think LA realized what was happening because there was nobody near me. When I got it, I think the clock would have ran out.
“I understand it gave them another shot, which fortunetly it didn’t work out. You learn from these things. Mistakes are going to happen, that’s basketball.”
As normal, LA opened the season on a long road stretch, losing five games. C Lisa Leslie has only missed two (knee), one on the road, making players and coaches believe chemistry still needs to be found among a lot of new faces.
Coach Michael Cooper also doesn’t like the new 11-player roster, which has hindered his team’s development. But it’s still early and LA is 2-0 at home, hosting the Storm on Sunday.
“What a way to get tested,” Cooper said of the road stretch. “That 11 players doesn’t really work, if you ask me. I’m opposed to it. I’d rather have 12 or 13. If we had 12, we probably wouldn’t have cut a player like [post] Jessica Moore. She could have played big dividends at this particular time.”