Sparks-Lynx Preview

Minnesota wants opponents to know that beating the Lynx at Target Center won't be easy. The Los Angeles Sparks don't need to be reminded. Looking to get a step closer to clinching home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, the Lynx try for an eighth consecutive home win over the second-place Sparks on Wednesday night. A winner in four straight by an average of 17.5 points, Minnesota (22-7) made a season-high 41 field goals during Saturday's 97-74 home rout of Seattle. With a 13-2 record at Target Center, the Lynx are tied with Los Angeles (21-9) for the best home record in the league. They're averaging 89.7 points on 54.1 percent shooting during a three-game home winning streak that followed a stunning 83-77 loss to lowly Tulsa in Minneapolis on Aug. 16. "Particularly at the Target Center we want to send those messages to every team that plays here," said Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve, whose team has a 1 1/2-game lead over the Sparks in the West. "You're going to have to play really well to come in here and beat us.'' Los Angeles has won two of the three meetings this season with Minnesota, with those wins by a combined margin of 65 points at Staples Center. The Lynx, however, have won their last seven home contests against the Sparks, including the playoffs, by an average margin of 15.6 points. Minnesota led 44-30 at halftime and held Los Angeles to 36.9 percent shooting during an 88-64 home victory June 28. "(The Lynx) have the best record in the league right now,'' said Sparks star Candace Parker, who has totaled 44 points in the last two with Minnesota. "That in itself, we have to come to the gym ready to play." Lynx forward Maya Moore has totaled 21 points on 8-of-27 shooting - 1 for 10 from 3-point range - versus Los Angeles this season, but has scored at least 30 in her last two home games and made 8 of 12 from long distance in her last three overall. "It's always good to be confident on the offensive end,'' said Moore, who scored 25 of her 30 in the first half and went 12 of 15 from the floor Saturday. "I just want to make sure our offensive flow is the best it can be. If that means me scoring the ball, I'll score the ball.'' Minnesota has connected on 45.2 percent (52 of 115) of its 3-point attempts over the last 10 games. Los Angeles held Atlanta to 2-of-11 shooting from 3 on Monday, but the Dream shot 52.3 percent overall in handing the visitors a 92-82 loss. Parker had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but the Sparks trailed by 11 after a quarter and 16 at the half en route to losing for the second time in 11 games. "We can't expect to dig ourselves a hole like that and throw a Hail Mary at the end," Parker said.