Sparks-Sky Preview

The Associated PressJune 29, 2013

While they've had few problems earning wins at home, the Los Angeles Sparks are again struggling to win road games early in the season.

The Sparks get another chance to end their winless drought away from home Saturday night but will have to keep the Chicago Sky from matching the best home start in franchise history.

Los Angeles (5-3) recorded its first win streak of the season by sweeping a three-game homestand, capped by Sunday's 79-69 victory over Washington. The Sparks didn't play again until Friday but were blown out 88-64 in Minnesota. They shot a season-low 36.9 percent and failed to top 75 points for the first time in 2013 after averaging 83.3 points on 50.3 percent shooting during the homestand.

They're scoring 74.3 per game and shooting 40.7 during an 0-3 start on the road, compared to 85.6 points and 51.1 percent at home. With New York's 67-62 win in Seattle on Friday, the Sparks are now the league's only team without a road win. Los Angeles has started 0-5 or worse away from home in three of the past four seasons.

Chicago-area native Candace Parker had a team-best 17 points and 11 rebounds Friday, but Los Angeles was beaten on the boards 47-28.

"Our rebounding was atrocious, and that's the key to everything," coach Carol Ross said. "It also shows that we weren't ready to play. It's my job to get them ready to play, and we didn't do it.

"Hopefully, we'll get up off the mat. We've got to do it quickly. We're going to play another tremendous rebounding team in Chicago."

The Sky have the league's top rebounder in Sylvia Fowles at 13.0 per game, but it's the return of guard Epiphanny Prince from the Russian national team which has keyed victories in the last two games.

Prince scored a team-best 21 points in a 71-61 victory at Indiana last Saturday in her first game back, then contributed 14 in an 87-74 win over visiting New York on Wednesday. Standout rookie Elena Delle Donne provided a career-high 26 points in the latest win and Fowles recorded her fifth double-double in nine games.

"My shot felt good today, I got some extra adrenaline because the last game it was poor (career-low 13 points versus Indiana)," Delle Donne said. "It's nice to see hard work pay off."

Chicago (6-3), one of the league's four unbeaten home teams at 4-0, registered a franchise-best 5-0 start at home in 2009.

Los Angeles and Chicago split last season's two meetings with the home team earning the victory in each. Prince led six Sky players in double figures with 17 points and had a career-high nine assists in an 85-74 win Sept. 2. Nneka Ogwumike's career-high 30 points paced the Sparks in an 86-77 victory Sept. 13.