The Connecticut Sun are trying to hold on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but they won’t have Tina Charles around to help them for at least the next two games.
Kara Lawson doesn’t seem too worried.
Charles will miss her second straight game when Connecticut visits the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night.
The Sun (22-8) lead Indiana by 1 1/2 games for the top spot in the East, and have won three of their last four contests after a 100-78 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday.
Charles, the league’s fifth-leading scorer at 18.2 points per game and team’s leading rebounder (10.6 per contest), had not missed a game in her WNBA career before sitting out Wednesday with a strained groin. She’s expected to miss Friday’s contest in Los Angeles and Sunday’s matchup at Seattle.
While Connecticut hopes Charles can return in time for Wednesday’s showdown with the Fever, Lawson proved she can shoulder the load until Charles returns.
Lawson scored a career-high 30 points against Phoenix, hitting 6 of 13 attempts from 3-point range. She had 16 points in the Sun’s first meeting with Los Angeles, though Candace Parker scored a season high-tying 33, grabbed a season-best 16 rebounds and added eight assists in the Sparks’ 87-81 road win June 13.
“Typical world-class,” Lawson said of Parker following that contest. “There’s not many people in the world much better.”
Nneka Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft, went 7 for 7 and scored 18 points in the first meeting with the Sun, and she ended up stealing the show in an 86-77 win over Chicago on Thursday.
Ogwumike scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Los Angeles (21-10), which leads San Antonio by two games in the race for the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed.
“She was super,” coach Carol Ross said. “She kept battling in the paint. She created a lot of plays just by being aggressive. She was clearly the sparkiest of Sparks tonight.”
DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 19 points - her most since going for 21 on June 8 - and Parker added 11 for Los Angeles, which won its seventh straight at Staples Center and improved to 13-1 at home after a dismal trip.
“We just came off a 1-4 road trip,” Ogwumike said. “We knew this game was essential, and also learning from the win was really important, too.”
Connecticut, though, has won four of its last five away from home, and its 12-3 road record is by far the best in the league. No other team has reached double-digit road victories.
The Sun had won three of the previous four meetings prior to the Sparks’ victory in June.