July 22, 2014

The New York Liberty are one of the best and hottest teams in the WNBA, but they have not beaten the Los Angeles Sparks this season.

The Liberty, 12-5 and winners of eight of their past nine games, get their final regular-season shot at the Sparks on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

Los Angeles (15-1) sits atop the league, having already pocketed a pair of victories against New York. They won 79-72 in overtime in Madison Square Garden on May 21 and 100-77 in Los Angeles on June 7.

"I'm really proud of what we're doing," Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike told SBNation.com.

"We're doing an awesome job of just narrowing the focus. We have a microscope on every game, and we're not looking too far into our telescope. We're just doing a great job of focusing on what we know we need to do today."

Ogwumike, who turned 26 Saturday, is having an MVP-like season, averaging 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting an astounding 70.4 percent from the field to lead the WNBA. She is coming off a career-high 38-point game, making 13 of 14 shots, in Friday's home win over the Atlanta Dream.

In two games against the Liberty, she has 43 points and 25 rebounds.

The Sparks have two other prime offensive weapons in center Candace Parker (16.3 points per game, team-best 4.6 assists) and guard Kristi Tolliver (14.3 points per game, third in the league at 48.4 percent on 3-point shots).

New York will feature an MVP candidate, too, in Sunday's showdown. Forward Tina Charles is averaging a WNBA-best 22.8 points per game.

She has been playing with a face mask to protect a broken nose; after missing one game, she returned Friday to post 31 points and 10 rebounds in a 99-88 win at Phoenix. Charles was held to seven points when she played in Los Angeles last month.

Liberty guard Sugar Rodgers averages 16.4 points and has scored at least 22 points in three consecutive games. She has made a league-high 50 3-pointers.

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