Fever-Sparks Preview


With their two All-Stars struggling, the Indiana Fever relied on their bench in an impressive road victory.

However, they'll likely need Tamika Catchings and Briann January to bounce back from disappointing performances Monday night in order to end the club's six-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Fever (12-13) continued their strong road play with a 75-68 win at San Antonio on Saturday, improving to 7-5 on the road with their fourth win in five games away from home. Coach Lin Dunn leaned heavily on her reserves, who supplied 22 of the club's 24 fourth-quarter points. Lynetta Kizer scored a team-high 16 off the bench.

"We got a lot of help from our bench," Dunn said. "We wanted to try to stay as fresh as we could against them since they were on a back-to-back and keep the tempo up, keep pushing the ball. I thought it paid off for us the last five minutes."

Catchings and January were a combined 0 for 14 from the floor with one point. The All-Star duo combines to average 26.3 points.

"Coach said that we're only going to go as far as the bench takes us, and that's something that we want to keep doing," Kizer said. "Just keep working hard and having faith in each other."

Indiana's defense has also been strong of late, holding its last three opponents to an average of 64.0 points.

The Sparks (11-14) are a league-worst 3-9 at home, and have lost five straight at Staples Center since a 65-57 win over Seattle on June 24.

Candace Parker scored a season-high 34 points in an 86-78 win at Indiana on July 15, but Los Angeles followed with three straight losses - all at home - prior to Saturday's 77-69 win at Seattle.

Nneka Ogwumike scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half, while Parker tallied 13 of her 19 after halftime. The win pushed the Sparks' advantage over the Storm for the Western Conference's final playoff spot to three games and trimmed their deficit behind third-place San Antonio to a half-game.

It was also general manager Penny Toler's first win as coach since taking over after Carol Ross was fired on July 20.

"Changes happen in seasons and in teams all the time," Ogwumike said. "I think we've done a really great job of maintaining our composure so we can keep going out there and doing what we do best."

Los Angeles shot 49.2 percent and committed only 10 turnovers after shooting 39.8 percent and averaging 13.7 turnovers during its three-game slide.

Catchings scored 25 points in the first meeting on 8-for-16 shooting while January sat out due to a knee injury.

The Fever haven't defeated the Sparks since a 98-63 victory on July 31, 2011.