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Storm Struggle In Pre-Season Opener Without Bird, Jackson

Don't expect the 2010 WNBA champion Seattle Storm to make any excuses for their 71-66 preseason opening loss to the Los Angeles Sparks - that's not what championship teams do and they're no different.

But it's also by no means indicative of their chances to repeat as WNBA champions in 2011.

Kevin Pelton of does a nice job of providing some necessary context that Storm fans can hopefully use to excuse their team for a pre-season loss: they were missing a few rather important players.

STORM: Storm Falls in Preseason Opener
During Wednesday's preseason opener against the Los Angeles Sparks, a 71-66 loss in Carson, Calif., the Seattle Storm looked a lot like a team seeing its first game action of 2011. Playing without Sue Bird (back spams), Lauren Jackson and Katie Smith (left Achilles tendinitis), who all sat out, the Storm struggled to generate offense on during the first half.

Even if you had never watched the Seattle Storm until last year's WNBA title run, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that point guard Sue Bird and forward Lauren Jackson are kind of good and, along with off-season addition Katie Smith, might be somewhat difficult to play without against Candace Parker's Sparks.

Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler, master of the no-frills understatement, didn't waste many words in summarizing what the team needs to work on moving forward.

"I think it would be nice to have Sue and Lauren get some game minutes," Agler mentioned to the Seattle Times.