Liberty-Sparks Preview


The Los Angeles Sparks aren't pleased that they carry the distinction of being the WNBA's lone team without a road victory, but they've made up for it by extending their impressive regular-season home winning streak.

Los Angeles looks to push that run to 17 when it hosts the turnover-prone New York Liberty on Thursday.

The Sparks (6-4) have dropped their four road games by an average of 14.3 points and had lost two straight before returning home for a 96-66 rout of Western Conference-leading Minnesota on Tuesday.

Candace Parker scored 27 points - 21 in the first half - and added eight rebounds for Los Angeles, which has won by an average of 24.0 points when playing at Staples Center.

"We want to (continue) playing well at home and building on that,'' Parker said. "But we've got to figure out what's wrong with the way we play on the road, because it's like two different teams.''

The Sparks haven't lost at home in the regular season since falling to San Antonio 91-71 last June 24. They'll host the Silver Stars on Saturday before heading out for two road games.

"Right now I'd say stay at the Staples Center,'' coach Carol Ross said. "But hopefully we're better than just that.''

Parker actually has been better on the road than at home, averaging 20.5 points compared to 15.3 at Staples. She was hot Tuesday, though, matching her season high.

"The last two games I wasn't necessarily confident. I wasn't sure. When I caught it I was looking to pass first, looking to dribble," Parker said. "(Tuesday) I was just like I've got to catch and shoot. That's what I worked on in the gym.''

Los Angeles' home streak includes an 87-62 win over New York on Aug. 25 as Kristi Tolliver scored 26 points, but Cappie Pondexter had 21 points and 12 boards to help the Liberty win 73-71 at home Sept. 9.

New York (5-5) enters this contest having dropped three of four after falling 94-87 at Phoenix on Tuesday. It committed 14 turnovers - well below its league-worst 19.2 average - but those led to 21 Mercury points.

"I'd rather see us throw the ball in the stands than throw the ball right to them," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "They get easy baskets.''

The Liberty average nearly four more turnovers than any other team.

"That's one thing that always has bothered us from the beginning of the season," said Kara Braxton, who had 14 points. "(We) just (need to) focus on the things that we need to do.''

Pondexter missed nine of her 14 shots Tuesday. She's never shot worse than 40.2 percent for a full season, but she's hitting at just a 36.4 percent clip so far.

"Once we figure out how to play three quarters of really great basketball I think we'll be really great,'' Pondexter said. "Once we figure out four quarters I think we'll really be super great. So it's a matter of us just putting it all together.''

New York has dropped its last two visits to Los Angeles.