Sparks-Shock Preview

After losing twice during the month of August, the Los Angeles Sparks are still looking for their first win of September. They'll try to avoid a season-high third straight defeat Friday night when they visit the upset-minded Tulsa Shock. Los Angeles (21-10) went 9-2 in August, winning six in a row at one point and closing the month by averaging 87.0 points during a three-game winning streak. However, the Sparks opened September with a 92-82 loss at Atlanta on Monday, then fell 83-74 at WNBA-leading Minnesota on Wednesday. Though the Sparks have already clinched a postseason berth, they dropped 2 1/2 games behind the Lynx in the race for home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. Los Angeles last lost three in a row Aug. 30-Sept. 4, 2012. The Sparks have not helped themselves by falling behind early in the last two contests - trailing by 16 points at halftime against the Dream and 12 at the break to Minnesota. "We've had that throughout the season. We've had collapses in quarters,'' said Sparks star Candace Parker, who had a game-high 25 points against the Lynx. "Every time we're trying to fight back in the fourth because we gave it away in the first or second quarter.'' Los Angeles is 3-1 against the last-place Shock (10-20) this season, and suffered a 96-89 loss at Tulsa on Aug. 2 while Parker sat with a wrist injury. In the three games she has played against the Shock in 2013, Parker averaged 24.3 points and 10.7 rebounds. She finished with 26, 11 boards and nine assists in a 90-88 home win over Tulsa on Aug. 25. Though the Shock's postseason hopes have been dashed, they secured their first double-digit win season since relocating from Detroit in 2010 with Sunday's 93-88 home victory over a New York team fighting for a playoff spot. "This feels great,'' said guard Riquna Williams, who had 22 points and six assists. "We are riding high right now and we just want to keep this up. We know our playoff hopes are over. Now we want to crush other people's dreams.'' Candice Wiggins scored a game-high 25 points for Tulsa, which has a chance to win consecutive contests for the first time since a three-game winning streak from July 17-21. Wiggins totaled 10 points in the first two games against the Sparks this season, but has 38 in the last two meetings. She finished with 20 points and eight rebounds at Los Angeles last month.