The Sparks' weaknesses are well-documented. Awful third quarters and an inability to win the rebounding battle have haunted the team in many losses this season.
On Saturday afternoon, the Sparks took control of both of those problems, but found new issues in a 75-62 loss to Seattle.
"We outscored them in the third quarter, and we outrebounded them," Coach Jennifer Gillom said. "But we just didn't put the ball in the basket tonight."
After falling behind, 43-33, in part because of a 27.3% shooting performance in the first half, the Sparks (4-12) came out strong in the second half and twice cut the lead to only three points.
A layup from forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton made the score 60-57 with 7:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Storm (15-2) went on a 10-0 run to secure the win.
"It made it look like we were tired, but we weren't," Gillom said. "They were making huge shots in the fourth quarter like they were in the first quarter, and that's why they won the game tonight."
The Storm began the game with a 13-0 run before center Tina Thompson scored the Sparks' first points on foul shots with 6:07 to play in the first quarter. Thompson made the team's first field goal on a jump shot half a minute later. .
"Seattle came out hot and we didn't," said guard Kristi Toliver, who came off the bench to lead the team with 18 points. "Sometimes it happens like that."
Overall, the Sparks' 33.9% field-goal percentage was a season low.
"Obviously, Seattle's a very good defensive team," Toliver said. "They were playing a little bit of pressure. I think we were getting good looks, but today we didn't knock the easy ones down."
The Sparks had 10 offensive rebounds to Seattle's eight, and 36 total to the Storm's 31. It was only the third game that the Sparks outrebounded their opponent; they are now 1-2 in such games.
"At least we improved on some things that we've been working on," Gillom said.
The Sparks are now 10 1/2 games behind the Western Conference-leading Storm, but are only two games behind second-place San Antonio.