Kristi Toliver scored 22 points, and Alana Beard added 18 to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the short-handed Seattle Storm, 82-71, Saturday night in Seattle for their sixth consecutive win.
Seattle was without point guard Sue Bird (stomach flu) and Ann Wauters (strained Achilles). Also, three-time MVP Lauren Jackson hasn’t joined the team yet after playing for Australia at the London Olympics.
Bird, averaging 12.7 points and 5.7 assists per game, left in the second quarter of Thursday’s 72-58 win against Phoenix with the stomach flu. Jackson is expected back Tuesday.
Tanisha Wright had 21 points and rookie reserve Shekinna Stricklen added 16 to lead Seattle (10-11), which remained in fourth place in the Western Conference.
The Sparks started slowly in their first game since the monthlong Olympic break but picked up the pace in the second half.
“I think it was natural that we would have at least a little bit of rust in the first half,” Toliver said. “We hadn’t played in a long time. I think we responded well, and hopefully we can take a little bit of this momentum against Indiana on Tuesday.”
Rookie Nneka Ogwumike had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles (16-6), which swept the season series, 5-0. Candace Parker added 11 points and 12 rebounds as the Sparks outrebounded the Storm, 36-24.
Wright figured she should have done a better job defending Toliver.
“I didn’t do a good job on her tonight,” Wright said. “I let her get too comfortable. I didn’t really do a good job of forcing her to do some things that she doesn’t like to do. I just think overall I didn’t do a good job of handling her.”