Stars-Sparks Preview - Sports Illustrated

Stars-Sparks Preview

Publish date:

The Los Angeles Sparks will get three consecutive home games as they try to protect their lead on a playoff spot, but they've been the WNBA's least successful team on their own floor.

A matchup with the league's only winless road team, the San Antonio Stars, could help the Sparks get their final homestand of the season off to a positive start Sunday.

Los Angeles (11-18) has a 2 1/2-game lead over fifth-place Seattle for the Western Conference's final postseason spot after a 3-1 road trip. The Sparks dropped the finale 76-66 to Tulsa on Friday even with Candace Parker shining once again.

Parker had 24 points and 11 rebounds for her 10th double-double in 13 games this season and seventh in a row. The Sparks are 8-5 since she ended a self-imposed hiatus July 29, including 3-2 at Staples Center.

Los Angeles is a league-worst 6-8 at home, most recently losing two of three games on a homestand Aug. 11-18. This stretch includes Thursday's matchup with Washington and next Sunday's game against Tulsa to conclude its home schedule.

The Stars (7-22) are 0-14 on the road and will be officially eliminated from the playoff chase if they lose Sunday. They have three chances left to avoid joining the 1998 Washington Mystics as the only teams in league history to fail to win a road game.

The Sparks beat San Antonio 86-81 on June 3 in the only meeting at Staples Center and have won three of four in the season series. Nneka Ogwumike had a season-best 27 points, but the Sparks' second-leading scorer (16.1 points per game) has missed the past five games because of concussion-like symptoms.

They didn't miss her in the most recent meeting with the Stars, winning 90-59 last Sunday. Parker had 20 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, while Jantel Lavender and Ana Dabovic combined for 40 points on 16-of-21 shooting.

Lavender is averaging 20.5 points on 60.3 percent shooting in the season series but was limited to eight points in Friday's loss at Tulsa.

The Stars have dropped six in a row overall after Friday's 83-69 defeat in Seattle. They've failed to top 40.0 percent from the field in any of those games.

They shot 38.5 percent Friday despite Sophia Young-Malcolm hitting 8 of 13 and scoring 18 points. San Antonio shot 26.8 percent and went 2 of 11 from 3-point range in last week's defeat to Los Angeles.

The Stars will seek to fend off their first seven-game skid since losing their final nine in 2005.