Sparks mark territory in starting WNBA title defense – Orange County Register

Ranking the top 10 sports events May 8-14 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: WNBA: SPARKS vs. SEATTLE
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN

Wake up and smell the basketball championship celebration.

The Clippers and Lakers may not lose any pride, or sleep, over this, but there’ll be a banner ceremony and ring distribution at Staples Center for the Sparks, who pulled off the WNBA title last year and now get back into defense mode with the first of 34 games that goes all the way to Labor Day weekend.

Remember, the Sparks started 20-1 last season, finished 26-8 and outlasted Minnesota in the best-of-five championship series — with the controversial ending, and Magic Johnson popping in help hoist the trophy. The franchise  quickly signed contract extensions with WNBA Finals MVP Candace Parker, regular-season MVP Nneka Ogwumike and league Sixth Player of the Year Jantel Lavender. Parker starts her 10th WNBA season, ranking in the top 15 career in points (15.3), rebounds (7.4), assists (4.9) and steals (1.38), as well as blocks (0.97). The Sparks lost top 3-point threat Kristi Toliver to free agency but made a draft-day deal for Odyssey Simms (14.0 points a game, 3.9 assists) with Dallas and also selected Sydney Wiese, the Pac-12’s all-time 3-point leader out of Oregon State.

Brian Agler, who led Seattle to the 2010 championship, returns as the Sparks head coach, the first in league history to win titles with two different franchises.

If the Sparks pull off another title, it would be their fourth to tie Houston for the most in league history. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

 

NO. 2: NHL PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
DUCKS vs. EDMONTON
Details/TV: Game 7 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Wednesday (time TBA), NBCSN

As long as they’ve fought it out to this point, why not accept a winner-take all scenario back in Anaheim. Winner gets to look forward to the conference finals against Nashville.

NO. 3: CYCLING: 12th AMGEN TOUR OF…

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