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Stewart, Bird lead Storm to 81-72 win over Sparks

FILE

SEATTLE (AP) — Breanna Stewart scored 20 of her 27 points in the second half and Sue Bird had 10 points and 11 assists to help the Seattle Storm beat the Los Angeles Sparks 81-72 on Thursday night.

Natasha Howard added 14 points, and Jewell Loyd had 13 for the Storm (11-5).

Bird made a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer before assisting on back-to-back baskets by Alysha Clark and Howard during a 20-7 opening run and Seattle never trailed. The Sparks (11-4) tied it twice early in the fourth quarter, but Clark converted a 3-point play before Stewart made a driving layup and then hit a 3-pointer to make it 74-63 with 3:48 to play. Chelsea Gray's layup pulled L.A. within four about two minutes later, but Bird answered with a jumper and Loyd, after stealing the ensuing inbound pass, hit two free throws as the Storm pulled away.

Candace Parker led the Sparks with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Nneka Ogwumike, a four-time WNBA All-Star, missed her second consecutive game with a back injury.

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