Just when it seemed the Los Angeles Sparks had turned a corner on their season, they could be without their superstar once again.
After suffering an ankle injury earlier this week, the status of forward Candace Parker remains uncertain as the Sparks look to avoid a fourth consecutive road defeat Friday night against the Indiana Fever.
Just seven games into her season, after missing the first seven with a hamstring issue, Parker (8.0 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game) hurt her right ankle in the first quarter of Los Angeles' 74-62 loss at Dallas on Tuesday. Parker did not return and the team said she'll continue to be evaluated.
The Sparks (7-7) looked as if they had found their rhythm with three straight wins from June 27-July 7. However, each of those victories came at home, where the Sparks are 4-2. It's been a different story on the road, where L.A. is 3-5 and been outscored by an average of 14.7 points while losing three in a row.
Tuesday's loss opened a three-game road stretch in which the Sparks could very well be without Parker for the duration of that span. Though, as coach Derek Fisher said recently, his team as a collective must be able to produce and deliver energy no matter who is on the floor or the opponent.
"We've got to be willing to die our basketball death, so to speak, every game," Fisher said as posted on the Sparks' official Facebook page.
That will be the mantra against Indiana (6-10), which lost for the ninth time in 12 games, 74-71 to Las Vegas on Wednesday. The Fever were in position for a second straight victory but were outscored 18-10 in the final quarter and allowed A'ja Wilson to make the go-ahead layup with 15 seconds to play in the game.
"I thought our (defense) was solid enough to put us in position to win a basketball game, but evidently it wasn't enough," coach Pokey Chatman, whose team held Vegas to 36.5 percent shooting but also committed a couple of key turnovers down the stretch, told the Fever's official website. "We know we are good enough to win games, but we can't make errors at crunch time."
Though Indiana has struggled with consistency in 2019, rookie forward Teaira McCowan has averaged 10.1 points and 11.3 rebounds over her last eight games.
L.A.'s Nneka Ogwumike (14.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg) scored 15 with 10 rebounds against Dallas while reaching the 1,500-point mark. That came after she recorded 31 points and 10 boards in a home win over Washington on Sunday.