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Sparks to launch WNBA title defense with key weapons missing

Sparks to launch WNBA title defense with key weapons missing

The Los Angeles Sparks will open the 2017 WNBA season as the defending league champion, with the circuit’s reigning MVP, Nneka Ogwumike, in the lineup and a roster that includes most of the nucleus that helped them to last year’s title.

But the Sparks might begin the year with more of a whimper than a bang, and jumping out to a repeat of last season’s 11-0 start is going to be a tall order, especially without one of the team’s tallest, and best, players for the first game.

Finals MVP Candace Parker is overseas, still competing in the Turkish League’s playoffs, along with Sparks starter Jantel Lavender and top reserve Essence Carson. Parker and Lavender are teammates in Turkey,...

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