Sparks suffer burnout in outdoor loss

Nearby fire wreaks havoc at the Home Depot Center and tired L.A. loses to Seattle

By Dan Arritt
Special to


Fans and players had to deal with remnants of a nearby fire during Sparks-Storm outdoor game.

CARSON, Calif. — The Sparks played their first outdoor game in franchise history Saturday night at the Home Depot Center‘s tennis facility, a variation of their schedule designed to showcase the team and its “Get Outside and Play LA” initiative.

Maybe next time.

A night of promoting health through outdoor exercise was permeated with the odor of burnt rubber as a result of a nearby scrap yard fire, and the Sparks started the game against the visiting Seattle Storm as if their tires were half inflated.

They made a run in the final minutes but were ultimately turned back by the sharp shooting of Seattle point guard Sue Bird and lost, 79-75.

“Once the game started, we were already down 10 or 12, but we kind of got into the flow of the game and adjusted to the environment,” said Sparks forward Tina Thompson, who scored 17 points. “Environment or not, we have to start the game the way it was supposed to be started.”

The Sparks (1-6) were heavy-legged from playing in Phoenix the night before, where they missed two last-second shots and lost, 90-89. Throw in the stench that settled inside the 8,000-seat tennis stadium for much of the game and it wasn’t the best night for the Sparks to add to their fan base.

“When we were shooting warmups, it was kind of grossing me out,” Thompson said. “I’m very sensitive to smells.”

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