Balanced Sparks Win Preseason Opener

After nearly two weeks of training camp prep and practice, the Sparks took to the court to put their hard work to test and give fans a taste of what they can expect this season in a preseason match against the Chinese National Women’s Olympic team. In the preseason contest, the Sparks blew past the Chinese team with a 31-2 run that spanned over 10 minutes during the first half and established a 51-21 lead before the team wrapped its only home preseason contest with a 98-58 win.

The Sparks spread the ball around early and often Saturday, assisting on 25 of 42 baskets, with Lindsey Harding leading the way with five. Alana Beard and Candace Parker finished with four apiece in limited action, and their eye for each other was quickly apparent. Beard scored three quick baskets to start the second quarter--all assisted by Parker.

"It comes with playing together for the past two years and understanding the game the same way," Beard said. "Candace Parker has a very high IQ when it comes to the game of basketball and I know that when I’m on the court with her the only thing I have to do is move and she is going find whoever is open or she is going to make the best play that needs to be made."

Coach Carol Ross was able to utilize a deep bench and spread minutes around, keeping legs fresh and hands active, as the Sparks forced 30 turnovers. Five scored in double figures, led by Farhiya Abdi and Sparks newcomer Candice Wiggins with 14 each. Wiggins also added six rebounds, three assists and five steals while handling primary ball-handling duties in the fourth quarter.

"We have a lot of different combinations," the WNBA vet explained. "We can go really big, we can go really fast, we’re very versatile."

Also stepping on the court in purple and gold for the first time, Sparks offseason addition Armintie Herrington wasted no time making herself at home. Entering in the first quarter, Herrington’s energy provided momentum and a defensive presence that allowed teammates to feed off her contagious energy.

"A lot of hustle, a lot of energy," Herrington answered when asked what Sparks fans can expect from her this season. "And just trying to make everything fun out there."

The Sparks travel north to Seattle Sunday for their second preseason game in as many days to take on the Storm. Following Sunday’s game, the team returns to Los Angeles to prep for its regular season debut. The team will return to Seattle to tip-off the 2014 season on May 16 before Sunday’s home opener at STAPLES Center on Sunday, May 18 vs. Phoenix.