Shock-Sparks Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The Tulsa Shock aren't out of the playoff race, though they will need to win the majority of their final seven games to get in.

To earn another much-needed victory Sunday night, they'll have to beat Los Angeles for the second straight time while dealing the host Sparks only their second set of back-to-back losses this season.

The Shock (9-18) are last in the Western Conference, but they've won two of three since a three-game losing streak. Liz Cambage had 20 points and eight rebounds while Glory Johnson added 15 points as Tulsa defeated San Antonio 73-67 on Friday.

The Shock maintained a 20-plus point lead until late in the third quarter, but needed two free throws from Candace Wiggins with 7.2 seconds to go to seal the victory.

''It's just good to get the win, even though it was very ugly,'' said Cambage, who scored nine points in each of the second and third quarters.

''People talk about making the playoffs, but that game, we just let them back way too easily.''

Tulsa is 4 1/2 back of Seattle for the final postseason spot in the West and would also have to pass the Silver Stars. The Shock, though, play both of those teams two more times apiece.

Continued strong play from Cambage will likely be essential for the Shock to make the playoffs. Averaging 16.7 points and 8.0 rebounds on the season, the center has put up 22.7 and 9.7 over the past three games.

She was at her best in a 96-89 win over Los Angeles on Aug. 2, scoring a career-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 10 of 11 on free throws. Wiggins had 18 points and Johnson 17.

The Sparks (18-8) will look to take this four-game season series and bounce back after having their six-game winning streak snapped in a 77-57 loss to the Storm. Los Angeles was outscored 14-4 and held to 2-for-10 shooting in the fourth quarter.

The club shot 37.7 percent overall in posting its lowest point total of the season. The Sparks also gave up 51 points in the first half and allowed Seattle to shoot 49.1 percent for the game.

''We weren't able to maintain that intensity,'' said forward Nneka Ogwumike, who scored a team-high 12. ''That bit us ... in the end.''

The Sparks will look to regroup at home, where they've beaten Tulsa four straight times. Los Angeles won 76-69 over the visiting Shock on June 8 behind 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots from Candace Parker, 21 points from Kristi Toliver and 20 from Lindsey Harding.

Cambage didn't play in the contest due to an ankle injury.

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