Injuries set the Sparks back, but it didn't stop them from making a playoff run
NBAE/Getty Images

Skills

Ticha Penicheiro quarterbacked the Sparks� offense this season to the tune of a league-leading 220 assists and an average of 6.9 per game. On the scoring end, Tina Thompson was the go-to player for the better part of the season, averaging 16.6 points per game over the span of 33 games. In hindsight, her clutch shooting can easily be perceived as the reason for the Sparks� presence in the postseason. When the Sparks won the tie-breaker over the Lynx to clinch the No. 4 postseason spot, one game in particular jumped out: Tina�s buzzer-beating shot against the Lynx on August 12.

Milestones/Achievements

Thompson became the WNBA all-time leading scorer in 2010, surpassing former teammates Lisa Leslie�s total of 6,263 after she drained a field goal on August 8 against the San Antonio Silver Stars. By the final game of the season, Tina padded that number even more, closing out the 14th year of her career with a grand total of 6,413. The nearest active player on the all-time list is Katie Smith with 5,760, followed closely by Lauren Jackson with 5,757.

The aforementioned Leslie, only one season removed from the league, also had a night of her own this season when the Sparks retired her number nine jersey to the rafters of Staples Center on August 10, just two days after Tina set the new all-time record for scoring.

Work History

The Sparks got off to a slow start to the season as the team posted a 4-13 record heading into the Stars at the Sun game in July. To make matters worse, Candace Parker was lost for the season after suffering a shoulder injury on June 13, Betty Lennox missed the remainder of the season following knee surgery in early July and Penicheiro admitted she played a good part of the season in pain from an Achilles injury she sustained in the first game against Phoenix. So to say the Sparks competed with a full, healthy roster throughout the 2010 season is a vast overstatement. However, the Sparks still found ways to win with the staff they had to work with, piecing together a respectable 5-5 record over the final 10 games of the season to seal their place as the No. 4 seed in the first round of the Western Conference playoff race.

Unfortunately for the Sparks, that first-round matchup was against the No. 1 seeded Seattle Storm, a team that had beaten them on five separate occasions during the regular season, including one outdoor game on June 5. At any rate, things did not bode well for the Sparks in the postseason either, as the Storm swept through the first round en rout to a championship. For the Sparks, it was a tumultuous season coming to a disappointing end.

When you look at Parker�s 2010 stats up until the point of her season-ending injury, you can�t help but wonder how differently things would have panned out had she remained healthy. She may have only played 10 games (OK, maybe nine and a half), but in that short span Parker racked up seven double-doubles and finished with double-figure scoring in each. If the average remained consistent, it would�ve been entertaining to say the least to watch her match up against Connecticut�s Tina Charles in the rebounds and double-double race.

Should both players stay healthy, fans may be privy to such a treat in 2011.

Frank Della Femina



2008 Leaders


* Based on 10 games
PPGCandace Parker*20.6
PPGTina Thompson16.6
RPGCandace Parker*10.1
RPGTina Thompson6.2
APGTicha Penicheiro6.9
SPGTicha Penicheiro1.34
BPGCandace Parker*2.2
BPGLindsay Wysdom-Hylton.75

Team Stats

Points Scored77.9(9th)
Points Allowed81.2(8th)
Field-Goal Percentage.441(7th)

History

Year Record Finish (Conf.)
2010 13-21 4th
2009 18-16 3rd
2008 20-14 3rd
2007 10-24 7th
2006 25-9 1st
2005 17-17 4th
2004 25-9 1st
2003 24-10 1st
2002 25-7 1st
2001 28-4 1st
2000 28-4 1st
1999 20-12 2nd
1998 12-18 3rd
1997 14-14 2nd