Sparks-Mystics Preview

The Associated Press

After a loss last week, Washington Mystics point guard Ivory Latta declared she wasn't going to get discouraged due to the long grind of a season that remained.

Her teammates probably don't mind when she contradicts herself by treating each game as though it's do or die.

After willing her team to its latest victory, Latta looks to help Washington avoid a sixth straight loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday.

Latta scored 10 of her 15 points over the final four minutes of a 68-60 victory over New York on Friday, lifting the Mystics (2-2) to their first home win in three tries.

"It was a must-win in May, how about that?" Latta said. "Especially, a win for us on our home court. We have to protect our home court."

Washington committed 16 turnovers and let a 12-point lead slip away in the third quarter before Latta took over.

"Just that whole segment in the fourth quarter, I'm going to be honest with you, I don't even know what came to me," Latta said. "When I was walking off the court, somebody was like, 'The beast mode came out.'"

Though Latta is the Mystics' only player averaging double digits at 15.3 points per game, they're getting plenty of other contributions. Kia Vaughn and rookie Jelena Milovanovic both set a season high with 14 points apiece Friday, and Washington outrebounded New York 41-26.

"It's more of a team effort right now," Vaughn said. "Individually, we are all capable of doing it, so we've got to put it together at home."

Los Angeles (2-1) is coming off a home win of its own after routing San Antonio 83-62 last Sunday, avoiding its worst start since beginning 0-3 in 2010.

Candace Parker scored 23 points and Kristi Toliver added 15 for the Sparks, who used a strong fourth quarter to pull away.

"I think it's a testament to the change that we're trying to make," said Nneka Ogwumike, who had 11 points and nine rebounds in her return from a lower back strain. "We're trying to identify ourselves as a stronger, kind of different team."

Parker, who is tied for third in the league at 21.3 points per game, added seven rebounds, six assists and four steals against the Stars.

"As talented as our team is, I think I just look for what's there," Parker said. "Whether it's spread the floor or kick out or set good screens, it's just being active, and I think that that's what going to change from game to game is how aggressive I have to be."

Los Angeles hasn't lost to Washington since July 17, 2011, and has won the five meetings since by an average of 18.2 points.

It's unclear if Sparks guard Candice Wiggins will be available for this contest after sitting out against San Antonio with a swollen knee.

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