Sparks-Storm Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Sparks' lengthy home winning streak is over.

They'll get plenty of opportunities to improve their road record over the next three weeks.

Los Angeles goes for an eighth consecutive victory over the Seattle Storm on Saturday night in the first of a home-and-home set.

Looking to extend their 19-game home winning streak - and record a seventh consecutive victory overall - the Sparks (11-5) fell 90-84 to Phoenix on Thursday.

All-Star starter Candace Parker's 25 points and 16 rebounds weren't enough as Los Angeles was handed its first regular-season home defeat since June 24, 2012, against San Antonio.

"I think that we just didn't come ready to play on this day,'' second-year forward Nneka Ogwumike said after scoring 14 points with nine boards. "We didn't even play well (Wednesday) and we won (77-73 over Atlanta).

"... Before the game, coach (Carol Ross) mentioned that we established that we were road warriors. Now we have to be warriors.''

The Sparks, who host the Storm (6-9) on Thursday before kicking off a five-game trip after the All-Star break, have won their last two on the road since opening 0-4 outside Los Angeles.

They're also undefeated in this series since a 65-63 loss at Seattle on Aug. 28, 2011, after routing the visiting Storm 102-69 in their season opener May 26. Kristi Toliver's 17 points led six Sparks in double-figures as Los Angeles recorded its second-most points and most lopsided victory in team history.

The Storm are trying to shake off another one-sided defeat, 86-59 to league-worst Tulsa on Wednesday. Three of the Shock's first four wins came against Seattle.

"I'm at a loss for words," Tanisha Wright told the Storm's official website. "We understand that this was a game we needed to win, especially when it comes down to playoffs. This may be who we're fighting against to get in.

"But we can't worry about that now. We just have to worry about taking care of ourselves."

Coach Brian Agler knows the Storm have plenty to worry about on the defensive end with back-to-back games against a Sparks team averaging 85.1 points on 48.4 percent shooting - both league highs.

"You have to learn from your wins and losses and find a way to get better," he said. "But you also have to forget about your last game and get ready for the next one."

Camille Little, the Storm leader with 11.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, finished with a team-best 13 points in the season-opening loss at Los Angeles.

Wright and Temeka Johnson each chipped in with 11 points, while former Spark Tina Thompson had nine while setting the WNBA record for starts with 437.

Los Angeles won 82-71 in its last visit to Seattle on Aug. 18 to cap off the five-game season sweep.

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