Sparks-Liberty Preview

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The Los Angeles Sparks have enjoyed a strong season inside the “Wubble.” The last thing they need is to enter the postseason dealing with injuries.

Aiming for a top-two playoff seed, the Sparks could be minus a couple of key contributors when they try to hand the lowly New York Liberty a fifth consecutive defeat on Tuesday night at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Los Angeles (14-5) currently sits third in the WNBA standings, one-half game behind second-place Las Vegas and two back of first-place Seattle.

After losing two of three following their impressive nine-game winning streak, the Sparks responded with an 86-80 win over playoff-bound Chicago on Sunday. Candace Parker finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds and Chelsea Gray scored 20, but starter Brittney Sykes was injured after she received a knee to the stomach in the third quarter and key reserve Sydney Wiese hurt her ankle early in the contest.

While it’s uncertain what the status of either will be for Tuesday, the Sparks certainly do not want to be shorthanded when the games really count. One bit of good news for Los Angeles was Sunday’s return of Nneka Ogwumike, who has been dealing with back issues. She totaled nine points over 29 minutes against the Sky.

“There are people that don’t like sleeping in the dark,” coach Derek Fisher told the Sparks’ official website. “Nneka is the night light that gives that feeling of comfort and security. You just feel better when she’s on the court and around.”

It’s a good bet Sykes and Wiese would be eager to get back on the court Tuesday after they combined for 32 points in a 93-78 win over New York (2-16) on Aug. 11. Parker scored 16 in that contest and Ogwumike added 11 for the Sparks, who shot just shy of 50 percent.

The rebuilding Liberty have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, but progress remains the goal during the final stretch of the regular season. Joyner Holmes had 13 points with 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 83-67 loss to Phoenix.

New York, which ranks last in the league averaging 72.2 points and shooting 36.4 percent, shot a dismal 27.2 percent overall and went 4 of 35 from 3-point range against the Mercury.

Jazmine Jones, who scored 10 points Saturday, finished with 24 against the Sparks last month.

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