With Kobe’s dad now coaching, LA Sparks hope to make comeback

<strong>After losing five games in a row, the Sparks handed Coach Jennifer Gillom her pink slip last week and replaced her with Assistant Coach Joe Bryant.</strong>

Tamara Latta
Sports Writer

At home on Sunday night, in front of over 6,000 fans, the Los Angeles Sparks showed intense energy as they built a 24-point lead against the Washington Mystics. But the Mystics refused to be intimidated by the double-digit lead; they rallied back from the deficit and beat the Sparks in overtime 89-85. This was one of the greatest second-half comebacks in WNBA history.
After such a brutal loss, the Sparks had a chance to redeem themselves on Monday night against the San Antonio Silver Stars. This time the Sparks showed more passion and interest in the game. Trailing by 10 points at half-time 42–32, the Sparks made a comeback reducing the lead to 2 points with a 10–3 run in the third quarter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to retire the opposing team for the night. The Silver Stars beat the Sparks 79–69 in front of 8,818 fans at the Staples Center.
The Sparks are 2–5 at home since the injury of their leading scorer, Candace Parker, who went down June 26 with a torn meniscus. Prior to her injury, she averaged 17.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists through seven games. Although Parker will be out for six weeks, the Sparks are looking to turn things around without their superstar and make a run for the playoffs. They are now tied with Seattle for fourth place in the Western Conference.
After losing five games in a row, the Sparks handed Coach Jennifer Gillom her pink slip last week and replaced her with Assistant Coach Joe Bryant. Bryant, father of Lakers stud Kobe Bryant, is no rookie when it comes to being the head coach; he led the Sparks to the Western Conference Finals in 2006.
Coach Bryant is confident that his team will get it together and find a way to win games. He was pleased with his team’s performance on Monday in spite of the loss. After the game, he spoke with the media in the locker room. “I like what I saw out there from our girls tonight,” Bryant said. “I think we came to play tonight. We played much better in the second half.”
On July 26, the Sparks will start a four-game road trip. Bryant is anxious to hit the road to try and get a winning streak going, since his team seems to play with a sense of urgency away. Their record as a visiting team is 6–8. Bryant talked about how better his team was away from home after the loss. “For some reason, we are a better team on the road, which is very weird,” Bryant said.

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