The San Antonio Silver Stars don't want to peak too early, but they're definitely not complaining about their recent results.
Facing the league-worst Tulsa Shock could help the Silver Stars continue the longest winning streak in franchise history.
Back from the WNBA's Olympic break, San Antonio goes for a 10th straight victory and eighth in a row in this series Friday night in Tulsa.
Before San Antonio (13-5) opened the season with an 88-79 victory at Tulsa on May 19, point guard Becky Hammon said that the team was "going to take our learning lumps" and that it "should be playing really solid basketball at the end of the year." The six-time All-Star was on target with her first comment as the Silver Stars dropped four of five following the victory over the Shock, but they've since gone 11-1.
"I don't know if we necessarily want to be playing our best basketball (now) - we want to be a team that keeps improving," said Hammon, who returned this week from London after averaging 12.1 points and 4.0 assists for a Russian team that lost to Australia in the bronze-medal game.
"We want to get good position for the playoffs - get that first or second seed. That's huge."
A big reason the Silver Stars have climbed to second in the Western Conference is their reserves are averaging 32.1 points during the team-record nine-game winning streak, led by Jia Perkins' 13.2 per game.
Perkins scored 21 of the team's 44 bench points in a 91-70 win over Atlanta on July 13 in the Silver Stars' last game.
"I feel like they have the best bench in the WNBA right now and a great point guard (Hammon)," Dream guard Armintie Price said.
While San Antonio is well on its way to a sixth straight playoff appearance, the Shock (3-15) are trying to avoid posting the league's worst record for the third straight season.
Tulsa president Steve Swetoha has a more positive outlook for the second half.
"We want to get to the playoffs (for the first time since 2009), continue to compete and improve on both ends of the floor," he told the team's official website.
The Shock, though, must try to improve without center Elizabeth Cambage, who isn't expected to make her season debut until later this month. The 2011 All-Star averaged 13.6 points and 5.6 rebounds for Australia in London, and made headlines Aug. 3 against Russia by becoming possibly the first woman in Olympic history to dunk.
Until Cambage returns, rookie forward Glory Johnson will key the Shock's inside game. The fourth overall pick is averaging 12.4 points and a team-best 5.9 rebounds. Johnson had 30 points and 14 boards - highs for any Shock player this season - in the team's last game, an 89-74 loss at Minnesota on July 12.
The Shock are 0-5 at home against the Silver Stars since relocating from Detroit for the 2010 season.
- San Antonio
- Becky Hammon