Playing their best basketball of the season, the Indiana Fever should feel confident against an opponent that’s given them little reason to be in recent years.
The Fever continue a four-game road trip Tuesday night looking to avoid an eighth consecutive loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.
Indiana hasn’t bested the Sparks since the 2011 season and last prevailed at Staples Center on Aug. 10, 2010.
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The Fever (14-9) appear ready for this test, however, after beginning the trek with impressive double-digit victories over contenders Washington and Phoenix. They’ve won six of seven since the All-Star break and 11 of 14 after a 3-6 start.
The Fever handed the Mercury a 75-63 defeat Sunday despite centers Natalie Achonwa and Erlana Larkins both unavailable and leading scorer Tamika Catchings held to four points on 2-of-11 shooting. Lynetta Kizer tied a career high with 19 points to help offset those absences, however, and Indiana held Phoenix to an 0-for-13 effort from 3-point range.
"I’m really proud of our team tonight," coach Stephanie White told the Fever’s official site. "That was a heckuva road win against a really good team in a tough environment."
The surge has moved Indiana into a second-place tie with Washington in the Eastern Conference, two games behind New York. The Fever climbed past Chicago in the standings after the resurgent Sparks (8-16) downed the Sky 76-64 Sunday for their fifth win in seven games.
Los Angeles’ improvement can be traced to Candace Parker’s return to the team after missing the season’s first two months. The two-time WNBA MVP was a difference maker against Chicago, totaling 21 points and a career-high 10 assists.
The Sparks also shined defensively, limiting the high-scoring Sky to their second-lowest shooting output of the season at 32.4 percent.
"We know that when they score more than 70 points, they win games, so that was definitely a point of emphasis for us," said guard Kristi Toliver, who added 16 points. "We did a good job with (Elena) Delle Donne and their main shooters."
Los Angeles, which leads San Antonio by 1 1/2 games for fourth in the West, also had guard Alana Beard back after the four-time All-Star sat out an Aug. 11 loss to Seattle. Beard has played in just nine games due to plantar fasciitis.
The Fever will have Achonwa back after the talented rookie missed the last three games while helping Canada to a gold medal in the FIBA Americas Championships. Larkins remains sidelined indefinitely with a left leg injury.