The Los Angeles Sparks are riding their longest win streak in three years but will next face a team that gave them one of the stiffest challenges during that run.
The Sparks will try to earn a seventh consecutive victory in their return to Staples Center on Tuesday night while recording a season sweep of the Indiana Fever.
While it might have been the cause for a slow start Saturday, the Olympic break ultimately wasn’t enough to cool off Los Angeles (16-6), which won 82-71 in Seattle in its first game since July 12.
Kristi Toliver, averaging 21.8 points during the six-game win streak, scored a team-best 22 on 9-of-11 shooting. Alana Beard had 18 points while making seven of 10 shots, and rookie Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker provided double-doubles.
“I think it was natural that we would have at least a little bit of rust in the first half,” Toliver said. “We hadn’t played in a long time. I think we responded well and hopefully we can take a little bit of this momentum against Indiana on Tuesday.”
Los Angeles might need all of that momentum during the visit from the Fever (12-7), who nearly defeated the Sparks in Indianapolis in both clubs’ final game before the Olympics.
Indiana held a one-point lead with 1:32 remaining but was kept off the scoreboard the rest of the way in a 77-74 defeat. Tamika Catchings missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer and Erlana Larkins failed to convert a pair of free throws.
Ogwumike, meanwhile, had 22 points and a career-high 20 rebounds, including a league-record 12 offensive boards.
That victory has helped the Sparks enter this game on their longest win streak since Aug. 15-25, 2009. They haven’t won seven straight since an eight-game run June 7-25, 2006, but might be in the right place to realize that goal.
Los Angeles has won nine of 11 all-time home games against Indiana but hasn’t swept the season series since 2006.
The Fever will try to thwart that attempt while extending their own win streak to three. They’ve won by a combined 32 points in their first two games back from the break.
Katie Douglas scored a season-high 29 points and tied a franchise record with seven 3-pointers during the latest win, 86-72 over Atlanta on Saturday.
Douglas averaged 10.3 points on 28.5 percent shooting over her previous seven games.
“It’s about time. It’s a good feeling,” Douglas said. “My teammates just found a way to get me the ball and I was able to step up and knock down shots. And that’s my role.”
The Fever are starting a three-game Western road trip while Los Angeles is opening a three-game homestand.
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