Though the Atlanta Dream lead the East Conference and own the second-best record in the WNBA, the Los Angeles Sparks are currently the hottest team in the league.
The Sparks look to extend their season-high winning streak to six games while trying to hand the short-handed Dream a third consecutive loss Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Los Angeles (10-4) started the season a modest 5-4, but has averaged 93.6 points while winning its last five by an average margin of 18.6 points per contest. Candace Parker had 21 and Nneka Ogwumike added 16 with 13 rebounds as the Sparks shot 50.7 percent and scored 21 fast-break points during an 88-76 win at Phoenix on Sunday.
"That's what we want to do, we want to get out in transition, we want to run, rebound the basketball and quick outlet,'' said Parker, who is averaging 23.2 points in the last six games. "I think we did a good job of that.''
Los Angeles is the WNBA's most potent offensive team, averaging 85.8 points and shooting 49.5 percent. The Sparks have shot 56.0 percent over the last four contests.
That likely does not bode well for Atlanta (10-3), which is trying to avoid its first three-game regular-season slide since it started 0-3 in 2011.
After the Dream's six-game winning streak ended with a 94-72 defeat at Minnesota last Tuesday, they shot 39.1 percent while minus three of their top four scorers in Sunday's 73-65 loss at Seattle.
Atlanta hopes versatile Angel McCoughtry (19.8 points per game) won't miss a second straight game with an Achilles injury. However, forward Sancho Lyttle (14.3 ppg) and guard Tiffany Hayes (10.8) are both expected to again be out for this contest with foot and knee injuries, respectively.
"It's pretty hard but nobody is feeling sorry for the Atlanta Dream right now,'' Atlanta forward Armintie Herrington said. "We didn't feel sorry for the teams we beat when they were injured so you have to find a way to win and keep playing hard.''
Erika de Souza had 16 points with a season-best 14 rebounds and rookie Alex Bentley scored 16 for the Dream, who over the last two games have averaged 10.4 fewer points than their 78.9 season average.
Atlanta is shooting 44.3 percent on the season but 40.6 in those two.
The Dream and Sparks split their two meetings last year, as Los Angeles snapped a six-game series skid with a 79-63 home victory.
Ogwumike totaled 25 points in those contests and Parker 23. McCoughtry missed last July's loss to Los Angeles with a knee injury, but scored 31 in a 92-59 home rout in their first 2012 meeting.
De Souza has averaged 13.8 points and 10.6 boards in the last five games overall.