Another game against Los Angeles. Another blown lead for Seattle.
The Storm coughed up an opportunity for a gritty win Sunday night against the Sparks, its fourth defeat in five games.
This time it was Nneka Ogwumike who administered the clincher, dropping an awkward, mid-range one-handed runner with under two seconds remaining to send the Sparks to a 67-65 win at Staples Center.
The Storm looked in control through three quarters while holding the Sparks to just 29 percent shooting. Katie Smith was clicking from beyond the arc while Sue Bird controlled the tempo with 12 points and five assists headed into the fourth.
Up 49-43 entering the period, it didn’t take long for head coach Brian Agler’s squad to unravel again.
After leading the entire second half, LA’s Kristi Toliver cut the Storm lead to three by dropping one of her two treys with seven minutes to play. Toliver finished with 23 points and seven assists.
After both teams traded buckets the next three minutes, Storm point guard Tanisha Wright hit a delicate six-footer with four minutes left to put Seattle up 60-56.
A perpetual thorn in Seattle’s side through this young season, Toliver drove to her left with Bird guarding closely, flipping in a floater while drawing the foul as the shot clock wound down with 2:20 remaining. Her free throw cut the Seattle lead to 60-59.
After the Storm botched its ensuing possession with one of its 19 turnovers, Toliver hit Candace Parker streaking to the bucket to cap an 8-0 run that gave LA the 61-60 lead.
Seattle failed to score its next time down the floor, then Ogwumike followed with a lay-in to make it 63-60. Smith responded by knocking in her fifth three of the night, a trey from the left corner to give the Storm new life. The former Olympian had with 19 points while going 7-11 from the field.
With Toliver in possession and the game clock winding down, LA’s point guard took advantage of a switching Seattle defense by driving past Camille Little, nailing a layup in traffic with 12 seconds remaining to put the Sparks up 65-63.
Bird then used a high screen to drive the lane with under 10 seconds remaining, missing a layup that Little tipped in with five seconds left before LA called a timeout to set up Ogwumike’s runner.
Seattle travesl to Minneapolis Wednesday night to take on the undefeated Minnesota Lynx (7-0).