Sun-Sparks Preview


While the surging Los Angeles Sparks are officially headed to the postseason, they have their sights set on the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Facing the worst team in the WNBA could help them inch closer to first place. Seeking a fourth consecutive home win, the Sparks go for a second straight two-game season sweep of the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night. After clinching its 13th playoff berth in 15 years with San Antonio's loss to Tulsa on Friday, Los Angeles (19-8) stormed back to beat the Shock 90-88 in double overtime two days later. Candace Parker, who finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high nine assists, scored the winning basket with 5.7 seconds left in the second OT. Nneka Ogwumike scored 21 points for the Sparks, who entered the fourth quarter down 58-39 before posting the third-largest comeback in team history. "Just find it, wherever you have it, just find it," said Parker, who added three steals and three blocks. "And the team that was the toughest is probably going to win because everybody's tired and everybody's legs are dead. That's kind of what we did." Los Angeles finds itself one game back of WNBA-leading Minnesota with seven to play. While the Sparks face the Lynx two more times, they first need to take care of business against the Sun. Los Angeles escaped with a 74-72 win at Connecticut on Aug. 6. Kristi Toliver had 19 points while Ogwumike added 15 and nine boards for the Sparks, who were without Parker due to a right wrist injury. Losers of seven of eight, the Sun are hoping to avoid a season-high fifth consecutive defeat after falling 74-66 to New York on Sunday. Kelsey Griffin and Tina Charles combined for 40 points and 19 boards for Connecticut (7-19), which set a franchise record for losses in a season. The Sun were limited to 36.2 percent from the field and outscored 34-22 in the paint. They had no answer for the Liberty reserves, who scored 24 points and shot 10 of 13. "At this point, you approach every game, regardless of postseason or not and you have an element of pride to your game," coach Anne Donovan said. "To have their bench just have a field day against us ... It's about pride. I don't even entertain talk of postseason or not postseason. This is about pride. Defensively, we're better than that." While the Sun are alive in the postseason hunt, they sit 4 1/2 games in back of fourth-place Indiana and 3 1/2 behind fifth-place New York in the East. Connecticut has dropped 10 of 12 on the road, including its last three by an average of 17.7 points.