The Los Angeles Sparks are off to their best start in nine years, but their wins have come against lackluster opponents. That could change Wednesday night.
The Sparks will try to extend their win streak to five when they visit Eastern Conference co-leader Connecticut, which is seeking a season-high fourth straight victory.
A healthy Candace Parker and No. 1 overall draft pick Nneka Ogwumike have helped Los Angeles (6-1) quickly put behind a pair of subpar seasons. The Sparks were 13-21 in 2010 and 15-19 last year while missing the playoffs for the second time in 13 seasons.
Ogwumike, leading all rookies with 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, posted career highs of 25 points and 12 boards in a 90-74 win over Phoenix on Friday.
Parker, who has dealt with shoulder and knee injuries over the past two seasons, recorded her fourth straight double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"There's a different energy about this team and a different type of identity," veteran forward DeLisha Milton-Jones said.
The Sparks are off to their best start since matching their own WNBA record by winning their first nine games in 2003, but their wins have come over three teams who are a combined 3-19. Los Angeles suffered its only defeat May 24 to defending WNBA champion Minnesota, which has tied the Sparks' 9-0 record start.
Connecticut (6-1) also suffered its only loss to the Lynx, 85-72 on June 1, but has bounced back by winning its last three by an average of 91.7 points.
Tina Charles became the first WNBA player to record 50 career double-doubles in 75 games during a 92-73 rout of visiting Atlanta on Sunday, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. She also set a franchise mark with her 19th consecutive double-digit scoring performance.
"(I'm) just playing hard, just trying to get a win," Charles said. "That's just my motivation out there. Just trying to get a win and doing what I can each possession."
Kara Lawson added a season-high 21 points as Connecticut shot 61.7 percent, the second-best performance in franchise history.
With Parker not playing in either meeting in 2011, Charles took advantage to lead the Sun to a season sweep of the Sparks, averaging 21.0 points and 18.0 rebounds.
She matched a career high with 23 rebounds and scored 22 points in a 79-76 home victory over Los Angeles on June 28.
The Sun haven't won four straight since July 15-26, while the Sparks are trying to win five in a row for the first time since a six-game run Aug. 15-25, 2009.