After dropping the opener on their longest trip of the season, the Los Angeles Sparks appear to have found some rhythm.
The Sparks look to conclude the four-game trek with a season-high third consecutive victory and extend their winning streak over the Indiana Fever to six Tuesday night.
Los Angeles (9-11) began the trip last Tuesday by allowing Minnesota to shoot 54.1 percent in an 83-72 defeat. The Sparks regrouped nicely, though, holding New York to 38.3 percent in a 68-54 victory on Friday and Connecticut to 34.2 percent in Sunday’s 90-64 rout.
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Nneka Ogwumike scored 24 points and had seven rebounds to best rookie sister Chiney as the Sparks outscored the Sun 30-10 in the third quarter to win for the fourth time in five road contests.
"All along I felt like if we played harder, we wouldn’t have been in so many of those close games," coach Carol Ross said. "We need to be able to finish out no matter what the score is."
Los Angeles’ Ogwumike hasn’t lacked for effort while averaging 18.3 points – 2.9 better than her season average – over her last six contests. She totaled 30 points on 13-of-15 shooting and 12 rebounds in two games against Indiana (10-11) last season.
Amid their five-game winning streak against the Fever, the Sparks have won the last three meetings by an average margin of 14.0 points.
After closing June on a four-game skid, Indiana won four of its first five this month before falling 93-74 at home to Atlanta on Saturday in matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Following a solid defensive effort in Thursday’s 72-68 win over Connecticut that snapped their four-game home slide, the Fever allowed 55 first-half points to the Dream – matching the most an opponent has scored against them since Minnesota had 60 on June 7, 2009.
”We didn’t defend at a high level," guard Shavonte Zellous said.
Bouncing back from that defeat and ending their recent struggles against Los Angeles could be even tougher if point guard Briann January is unable to play. Third on the team with 11.1 points per game while averaging 4.3 assists, January left in the third quarter Saturday with right knee pain after a collision with Atlanta’s Shoni Schimmel.
January totaled 23 points against the Sparks last season.
After scoring 44 points and shooting 55.2 percent in her previous two games, Indiana star Tamika Catchings had 14 on 4-of-12 shooting against the Dream. She totaled 33 points but went 1 of 8 from 3-point range versus Los Angeles in 2013.
Ex-Spark Marissa Coleman is averaging a career-high 9.1 points in her first season with Indiana, but hasn’t scored more than eight in her last four contests.