Silver Stars-Sparks Preview
The Los Angeles Sparks had a disappointing 2011, due in large part to an injury that kept Candace Parker out for most of the season.
They're hoping her latest setback isn't nearly as bad.
It's unclear if Parker will play in the second of a back-to-back when Los Angeles seeks a fourth straight win Sunday night against the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars, who have won seven of the last nine meetings.
The Sparks (10-3) got a career-high 29 points from Kristi Toliver in Saturday's 93-84 win over Phoenix. Parker, among the league leaders with 19.8 points per game, didn't play because of a sore knee.
Parker played only 17 games last season due to a right knee injury as Los Angeles finished 15-19 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 - the year before Parker became the first player to win MVP and rookie of the year in the same season.
The Sparks, winners of eight of 10, hope their star player isn't out for more than Saturday's game, but Toliver said they are prepared if Parker needs more to time to heal.
''With Candace being out, then people need to step up a little bit and make up for her absence, and I think that as a team collectively we did that,'' Toliver said. "We got a little lackadaisical in the second half and Phoenix stepped up. There are definitely things that we have to get better at.''
Parker scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds in a 98-85 overtime loss to San Antonio on June 16, when the Silver Stars outscored the Sparks 15-2 in the extra session.
San Antonio has had plenty of success against Los Angeles in recent seasons, and it is in the midst of playing three of four games versus the Sparks. The Silver Stars' next contest will be at home versus Los Angeles on Thursday.
San Antonio (4-5) fell 82-76 at Seattle on Friday for its fourth straight road loss. Jia Perkins scored 20 points on a cold-shooting night for leading scorer Sophia Young, who finished 2 for 11 from the field but 12 for 12 from the free-throw line to finish with 16 points.
"We just have to lift each other up. Everyone isn't going to make shots, but we can still win the game not making shots," Perkins said. "We can do the little things - play good defense and get some big buckets."
Becky Hammon added 14 points for the Silver Stars, who shot 35.1 percent after hitting 46.2 percent of their shots against the Sparks.
''I thought we did a good job of handling their runs and coming back, we just couldn't get control of the game,'' coach Dan Hughes said.
Hammon and Young scored 24 points apiece in the latest victory against Los Angeles, and Alana Beard led the Sparks with 23 points.
San Antonio's only road win came against league-worst Tulsa on May 19.