The Minnesota Lynx lost sole possession of first place in the Western Conference when they couldn't beat a team just striving for a playoff spot. They have another such opponent Sunday night.
Minnesota will try to avoid its first four-game losing streak in three seasons as it hosts the New York Liberty.
The Lynx (17-6) had a 3 1/2-game lead over Los Angeles following their 10th straight win Aug. 6 but now are just percentage points ahead of the red-hot Sparks. Another high-scoring effort from Seimone Augustus was not enough in an 83-77 loss to Tulsa on Friday.
Augustus had 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting after scoring 26 at Chicago last Sunday, but her teammates combined to shoot 15 of 41 (36.6 percent) against a Shock team in last place in the West.
"You have a desperate team trying to make the playoffs and our goal was to be more important than any team that we are playing, so our sense of urgency should have been much higher," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "For whatever reason, it's not. We've got to figure it out."
Now the Lynx take on a Liberty team which is fifth in the East but very close to the fourth and final playoff spot.
Minnesota will try to avoid its first four-game skid since dropping five straight July 17-29, 2010.
"We're in the nitty gritty of the season. Everybody's trying to make their playoff push, so you're going to get their best," Augustus said. "You have to expect to have some bumps in the road. It's just about how we bounce back from it.
"We have to focus in on another hungry team in New York."
The Liberty (10-14) didn't help their cause with a 66-57 loss to Washington on Friday. Leading scorer Cappie Pondexter was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting after scoring 33 in a win in Atlanta last Sunday, and said she's dealing with an ailing foot.
"Just a nagging injury," Pondexter said. "Takes away a lot of part of my game, just being explosive, getting to the rim, jumping. ... It's something I'm aggravated with but still gotta play through it no matter what."
The Liberty are hoping their star can get healthy soon as they have a three-game road trip that begins with matchups against two of the top teams in the league. After visiting Minnesota, New York will face East-leading Chicago on Friday.
The Liberty also play the Lynx in their return home Aug. 27.
Minnesota has won the past three meetings with New York by a combined 68 points. The Lynx's 102-70 rout in the most recent one June 21, 2012, was the most lopsided result in the series.
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