Shock-Sparks Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Sparks appear to be headed to the playoffs for a third straight year.

The Tulsa Shock will need a strong finish - and likely some help - to end their postseason drought.

Los Angeles seeks its fourth win in five games Tuesday night when it hosts Tulsa.

The Sparks (13-15) are a half-game ahead of San Antonio for third place in the Western Conference. They've held opponents to an average of 70.3 points in their last three victories, down from 77.9 on the season.

Los Angeles claimed a 70-69 home victory Sunday over Connecticut despite trailing by six with 29.8 seconds remaining. Nneka Ogwumike stole an inbounds pass and Candice Wiggins found Kristi Toliver for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.6 seconds left. Toliver had been 0 for 6 from the field and 0 for 3 from deep.

"For me it's not about what happened," Toliver said. "It's about what you can make happen in the moment. I knew I was in there for a reason, and that's to make a play. I wasn't down about the game."

Alana Beard scored a team-high 18 points and is 20 for 31 over her last three contests, while leading scorer Candace Parker had nine after missing two games with a strained left knee.

The Shock (10-19) still have a chance at a playoff bid, trailing San Antonio by three games for the conference's final spot. However, four of their final five games are on the road, where they're 3-10.

Tulsa has yet to make the playoffs since relocating before the 2010 season from Detroit, where the team had reached the postseason for seven straight years.

The Shock suffered an 84-75 home loss to Minnesota on Saturday. Skylar Diggins scored eight straight points in a 1:12 span early in the fourth quarter to bring Tulsa within two, but Maya Moore finished with 40 points for the Lynx, including 13 in the final 5:25.

Rookie Odyssey Sims scored 25 and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. She's averaging 24.2 points over her last six games while going 13 of 25 from beyond the arc.

"She has the 'it' factor. She knows she belongs," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "She is competitive. She has confidence in what she is doing."

The Sparks have taken the last two meetings after losing 69-67 in Tulsa on June 13. Parker is averaging 19.0 points in the season series.

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