Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sun-Sparks Game Thread

Final, Sun win 87-61: The Sun did what they were supposed to, handling the depleted Los Angeles Sparks, behind Lindsay Whalen, Sandrine Gruda and Barbara Turner. The Sun put this game away early, and Los Angeles simply didn't have the energy, talent or depth to compete. It resembled more a preseason game, as far as the Sparks' personnel were concerned.

End of 3rd quarter, Sun lead 64-47: The Sun have started to stretch their lead and have all but made the fourth quarter a formality. Lindsay Whalen (22 points) especially took advantage of the Sparks' thinned frontcourt defense, driving in for a variety of pretty finger rolls and scoop lay-ups. Perhpas the prettiest came in transition when she split two defenders, drew the foul and rolled in an impossible-looing reverse lay-up with 5:25 left in the quarter. She had 13 points alone in the frame.

End of 2nd quarter, Sun lead 34-26: The Sun held the already-tiring Sparks to one field goal in the final six minutes, sparking a 9-2 run to close the half. Lindsay Whalen has nine points and Sandrine Gruda has eight to lead Connecticut.

Tamika Whitmore also has six points, playing with a large black brace on her right knee and 'Free Rick' written on the back of the tape on her right ankle, a homage to Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn, who was suspended two games for his involvement in the Sparks-Shock brawl on Tuesday. Many feel Mahorn was acting only as a peacemaker and that he didn't deserve his suspension, though he appeared to knock Lisa Leslie to the ground.

"I know Rick from his playing days and even though we had some altercations together, Rick is still a nice guy," Sparks coach Michael Cooper said prior to tonight's game. "And after our playing days, we still have a competitive edge about us as coaches, and I really believe that he wasn’t out there to hurt anyone. I just think he should have done a better job of corralling his players, just work on your players. That’s what I was doing. I wasn’t trying to touch any woman out there. I was just trying to make sure our players didn’t get into any other altercations.

"I’m sure if Rick had to do it again, he probably would have done it a lot different. But Rick wasn’t out there maliciously trying to hurt anyone. And I believe that in my heart."

Mike Thibault also showed his support for Mahorn by wearing a small 'Free Rick Mahorn' sign during his pre-game interview with Bob Heussler that was aired during halftime.

End of 1st quarter, Sun lead 21-18: As expected, the Sparks have come out with energy in trying to fill in for their suspended stars, but the Sun -- and what appears to be the sell-out crowd everyone expected -- have matched it. They ended the quarter on a 7-0 spurt, highlighted by two Sandrine Gruda jumpers and a Barbara Turner 3-pointer.

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