Since the franchise relocated to Tulsa in 2010, the Shock haven’t experienced anything even resembling the success that was so prevalent in previous years in Detroit.
Skylar Diggins and new coach Fred Williams seem on their way to changing that.
The Shock seek a fifth consecutive victory Thursday night as they begin a four-game road trip against the slumping Los Angeles Sparks.
Tulsa (4-5) went 29-107 in its first four seasons in Oklahoma after appearing in four WNBA Finals and winning three titles during the franchise’s 12 seasons in the Motor City.
It began in familiar fashion this season by dropping its first five games, but Diggins helped cap a 4-0 homestand by scoring a career-high 26 points in Sunday’s 85-79 win over Seattle to give Tulsa its longest winning streak since relocating.
The second-year guard averaged 22.3 points during the homestand and is fourth in league in scoring at 19.2 points per game. Courtney Paris had her fifth double-double in six games Sunday, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
”We’re a tough team," Paris said. "We had some adversity in the beginning, losing five games to start the season. It was good adversity because we learned from it. Now we’re winning those close games.”
Williams coached Atlanta to the WNBA Finals last season before being let go, and he’s trying to bring a winning mentality to a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since its relocation.
”After five years, starting as an expansion team, we’re just trying to secure that home court-advantage,” Williams said. "If you can secure those tight games at home, it will put you in a good position at the end of the season."
Now the Shock must learn to win on the road, where three of their four losses have come by four points or fewer.
Tulsa will get its road trip started against a familiar opponent after beating the Sparks at home 69-67 on Friday. Diggins hit the tiebreaking jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining and finished with 22 points.
That was the closest Los Angeles (3-7) came to a win during a stretch in which it’s lost four straight by an average of 14.8 points. Alana Beard scored 18 points and Candace Parker added 16 against Minnesota on Tuesday, but the Sparks fell 94-77.
Los Angeles, which sits in last place in the West, had a long team meeting after allowing the Lynx to shoot 63.8 percent.
”It’s a matter of individually and as a team, just putting it together and playing with a little bit more effort and heart,” Beard said. ”I can put all those things you want on the paper and tell us to do this and tell us to do that, but if we stop trusting each other and if we don’t put it all out there, nothing will come of it. Hopefully we’ll get back into this race.”
The Sparks are still without starting guard Kristi Toliver, who has missed the last three games while training with the Slovakian national team.