If losing for the fourth time in four tries to the Los Angeles Sparks wasn’t enough Saturday night, the Storm endured injuries to Sue Bird and Tina Thompson that left them with only seven healthy players at the end of a dreary evening on national TV.
Bird, the team’s leading scorer and a U.S. Olympian, was held out of the 83-59 loss to the Sparks (12-6) with an an injured hip flexor muscle, joining center Ann Wauters (Achilles strain) on the bench.
With 7:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, Thompson’s left knee bent awkwardly after a collision with a Sparks player. Hopping on her right leg, she had to be helped off the Staples Center floor.
To make matters worse, the Storm had to leave right after the game to return to Seattle for a 6 p.m. home game Sunday against Phoenix. Bird’s injury wasn’t believed to be serious, but the extent of Thompson’s injury wasn’t known.
Katie Smith started for Bird and didn’t score in 23 minutes. Rookie Shekinna Stricklen opened at forward, moving Tina Thompson to center for Wauters. But the Storm fell behind 28-17 after the first quarter, then were blitzed 22-10 in third period as the Sparks pulled away, leading by as many as 27 points.
Kristi Toliver led the Sparks (12-6) with 21 points in 21 minutes in the rout, and Candace Parker added 17. Camille Little led the Storm with 12 points. The Storm (7-9) ended a four-game road trip 2-2.