Sparks-Liberty Preview

Field Level Media

The Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty are heading in opposite directions at the moment.

Trying for a season-high fourth consecutive victory on Saturday, the visiting Sparks can also hand the Liberty their fourth loss in a row.

Though dealing with an injury to star Candace Parker and a 10-game suspension to key offensive contributor Riquna Williams (11.5 points per game), Los Angeles (10-7) continues to hover near the top of the WNBA standings. Parker has been limited to just seven games in 2019 and an ankle issue has kept her out of the last three contests.

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Interestingly, the Sparks have won all three, and six of their last seven. Los Angeles trailed by as many 16 points in the first half Thursday against Dallas and was down 42-32 at the half. However, the Sparks regrouped to outscore the Wings 24-9 in a decisive third period en route to a 69-64 win.

Nneka Ogwumike (15.9 ppg, 9.3 rebounds per game) scored 13 of her 22 points in the third for Los Angeles, which extended its home winning streak to four.

"They just made a choice that they wanted to win the game more than Dallas did. They went out and changed it," coach Derek Fisher said as posted on the Sparks' official Facebook page. "The only thing you can control is your effort, your energy, your intensity, our commitment to your teammate, to the team. Something bigger than you. I think they were holding on to those principles in the third quarter."

Ogwumike has averaged 21.4 points in the last five games. She was held to just nine in a 78-73 win at New York on June 4, but had 20 with nine boards in a 98-92 home loss to the Liberty 11 days later. Chelsea Gray (13.1 ppg) had a career-high 29 in that victory in the New York area, while Chiney Ogwumike (11.3 ppg) has totaled 41 points in the two 2019 games with the Liberty.

Parker (8.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) hasn't faced the Liberty at all this season, and it's uncertain when she will return to the court.

New York (7-10), meanwhile, will try to avoid losing four in a row for the second time in 2019. The Liberty won four straight from June 28-July 5, but have dropped the last three by an average margin of 19 points.

All-Star Kia Nurse (16.3 ppg) continues to be a bright spot for the Liberty, scoring 19 while they shot just 36.8 percent and committed 19 turnovers in a 78-69 loss at Seattle on Sunday. Fellow All-Star and leading scorer Tina Charles (17.9 ppg), meanwhile, has averaged just 11.7 points in the last three contests.

Charles had 21 points and 14 boards in the loss to L.A. last month, but only nine in the victory over the Sparks. Nurse scored 26 in that win, while teammate Amanda Zahui B (10.2 ppg) posted a career-high 37 points.

It's possible New York will have rookie Asia Durr (11.1 ppg) available on Saturday after missing the last two games with a groin strain.

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