Silver Stars-Sparks Preview

The Associated Press

The San Antonio Silver Stars temporarily looked like they might be able to withstand the absences of two key players. More recent results suggest they could be in trouble.

San Antonio looks to shake off its road struggles and knock off the Los Angeles Sparks for the second time in two weeks Saturday night.

With last year's two leading scorers - Sophia Young (16.3 ppg) and Becky Hammon (14.7) - sidelined due to injuries to begin the season, most didn't expect much out of the Silver Stars (2-3). They suffered a 15-point loss to reigning champion Indiana in the season opener, but they bounced back with victories over Los Angeles and Chicago.

All three of those games were at home. Defeats in the first two contests of a four-game trip, including an 87-72 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday, have seemingly brought the Silver Stars a dose of reality.

San Antonio held a 36-35 halftime lead against the Lynx but was done in by an 18-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.

Shenise Johnson scored a team-high 16 as part of a San Antonio bench which totaled 32 points. The club's reserves average 34.5 points but haven't been able to compensate for the losses of Hammon and Young, who combined for 37 percent of the team's scoring last year.

Hammon is likely out until July with a broken middle finger, while Young may be lost for the year due to an ACL tear she suffered while playing in China during the offseason.

"You look at our team, and you take two kids out, Sophia Young and Becky Hammon, and it pushes a couple kids up," coach Dan Hughes said. "The other kids now kind of slide into that bench situation. This is a young team that is still learning roles a little bit."

San Antonio could have the benefit of rest, having been idle for three days while Los Angeles (2-2) is coming off a 97-81 loss at Phoenix on Friday.

The Sparks, who had limited their first three opponents to an average of 73.7 points, let the Mercury shoot 50.0 percent from the field.

"I'm disappointed with the loss, but I'm more disappointed with the way we played," coach Carol Ross said. "There wasn't a whole lot of fight, we didn't handle adversity well and we were not resilient. It's disappointing to not just lose, but lose in that way."

Kristi Toliver led Los Angeles with 18 points while Candace Parker added 15.

Parker had 27 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks in the teams' first meeting, but Los Angeles had a three-game winning streak in the series snapped. Johnson scored a team-high 19 for the Silver Stars.