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Kathy Goodman says

Thank you, Lisa Leslie

I have been a Sparks season ticket holder since the first WNBA game in 1997, and so I have seen Leslie play throughout her professional career.  Even before there was an WNBA, I followed women’s college basketball, and Leslie was all over the college game in the early 1990s.  I followed her career from USC to the Atlanta Olympics to the Sparks. The first time I ever met Lisa in person, however, was by happenstance.

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LA v NY

I was finishing up with my UAE students, so my ticket went unused. Fortunately, Kathy Goodman came east: I can’t complain

The Sparks came in to play the New York Liberty at the end of a four-game, 10-day trip that had us zigzagging across time zones four times. Although the trip started rough in Indiana, we rallied from there, winning in Connecticut and Minnesota, moving us into fourth place in the Western Conference standings (and a playoff berth). We all were looking for a final win in New York to cap our trip, but it wasn’t to be. We fell to the Liberty on Friday night, 88-79, but I can’t complain.

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Kathy Goodman writes

Getting closer

At the end of the third quarter in Tuesday’s Sparks game against the Tulsa Shock, I was on my way to visit one of the suites at Staples Center.  I walked past the press section, and one of the reporters asked me, “So, is this the complete game you were looking for?”  We were up by 10 points at the end of the third, having led the whole quarter. I admit I was feeling pretty good about our chances but said, “Ask me again in 10 minutes. We’ll see what happens in the fourth quarter, but so far, so good!”

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you’d probably posit that LA v. Tulsa would be a dog of a game for ESPN.

But that’s the thing when two struggling teams face each other — they can produce a fun game. And, if you’re a casual viewer, which is the point of having games on ESPN, you might have enjoyed it.

Tough, though, if you’re a Shock fan.

Hey, if you were an Oklahoma State fan, you were probably encouraged by Andrea Riley’s performance.

And if you’re Kathy Goodman, you can write: At last, a road win for the Sparks

I am sure ESPN had a different game in mind when they scheduled the Sparks-Tulsa Shock matchup as the game to tip off the second half of the WNBA’s Western Conference schedule Tuesday night.  The  Sparks and Shock, when they were in Detroit, developed a deep rivalry, and the teams always played a tough physical game.  But the rivalry was built in part on the longstanding NBA rivalry of coaches Michael Cooper and Bill Laimbeer, neither of whom remained at the helm of their respective franchises.  The rivalry was fueled by an on-court altercation between Candace Parker and Plenette Pierson, neither of whom appeared in Tuesday night’s game: Candace home in L.A. rehabbing her shoulder and Plenette traded to New York.  The rivalry was personified by the finesse of Lisa Leslie and the power of Cheryl Ford, both sidelined this season — one to retirement and one to injury.

Instead, ESPN had as its Tuesday night matchup the fifth-place Sparks against the sixth-place Shock, but it turned out to have its own moments.  For the Sparks, it meant our first road win, 87-71, and another chance to move up in the Western Conference standings.

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We need a complete game

I was studying the stat sheet after our 98-89 loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night.  Three of our starters scored in double figures, with Kristi Toliver leading the bench, scoring with 16. Same for Phoenix, with DeWanna Bonner leading their bench with 16. The third quarter has usually been the graveyard for the Sparks, giving up a big lead or digging a big hole we can’t climb out of, but not in this game.  We came out of the locker room at halftime ready to play, shooting over 50% in the third quarter, out-rebounding Phoenix and limiting them to just two 2 fast-break points.  It definitely was not a third-quarter problem. It was the same problem that plagued us in our game Saturday against Seattle: We started slow and couldn’t overcome the deficit we created for ourselves.

Hey, Kathy? Check the tabs at the top of your blog. How come there’s not one for the Sparks?

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The Sparks came off a big win on Thursday night against San Antonio right into their fourth match-up against the best team in the league, the Seattle Storm.  It is hard to argue with the level of basketball Seattle is playing. They have the best record in the league because they have earned it — playing consistently good team ball with a core that has been together for a couple of seasons and some great new additions this year.  Going into the game, I still felt that if we played our best basketball and they made some mistakes, we could have things go our way.  Although we did not continue our win streak — Seattle beat us 75-62 — I left the game feeling that we really competed hard. Seattle just didn’t make enough mistakes.

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My Liberty fandom demands that I wish losses on the Sparks at every turn.

But, dear L.A. friend Maria is, hands down, the best women’s basketball fan in the world. And I think mighty highly of Kathy Goodman. So I’m pleased Maria went home happy and Kathy had some good news to blog about.

I am not sure how to describe my mood coming into Thursday night’s game against the San Antonio Silver Stars. Resigned may be the best word. I knew what our team was capable of. I knew we were far from out of the running in the Western Conference if we could get a couple of wins, especially since Minnesota had lost its game earlier in the evening. I knew our next three games — this one, Saturday afternoon and Tuesday night — were going to be crucial since they were against Western Conference teams. I also knew that we had a very long losing streak behind us. San Antonio was in second place in the West, and we had played a terrible game of basketball against them in San Antonio earlier in the season, but I knew our players were just sick of losing. So I decided to try my best to live in the moment — not celebrate an early lead or despair at early setbacks — just let the game unfold.

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Good questions and answers during Mechelle’s chat today.

Gosh, it would be nice if I got an email reminding me that it was happening….

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From my fellow educator in LA: Kathy Goodman: Focus and effort

The last time I played basketball — the only time, really — I was in eighth grade and my U.S. History teacher, who coached the eighth-grade team, asked me to join because I was tall. I knew the rules of basketball — I had played it in gym class — but had no actual basketball skills. But I liked my history teacher, so I joined the team.  It became apparent pretty early in the process that I had no actual skills.  I couldn’t dribble; I couldn’t pass; I couldn’t shoot.  My coach still played me, though, because the one thing I could do was rebound.  It didn’t require great athleticism or years of practice.  It required focus and effort.  I was reminded of that often during the Sparks’ 80-68 loss to the New York Liberty on Tuesday night.

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From Donald Barnat at SportsPageMagazine: As Losses Pile Up, Sparks Owner Digs In

The first thing that hits you is the exuberance in her radio-ready voice. Los Angeles Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman speaks with a hard-charging positivity that’s so impervious to bad news it makes one wonder what it would really take to get her off message.

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