Not long ago, many regarded Candace Parker as the face of the WNBA.
Putting a disappointing rookie campaign behind her, Skylar Diggins could soon be making a claim to that distinction.
Saturday features a matchup between two of the league’s top scorers as Diggins looks to lead the Tulsa Shock to a seventh win in nine games when they host Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks.
Diggins is scoring 20.5 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting after averaging 8.5 and shooting 32.8 percent as a rookie last year. She has 65 points over her last two games, including a 32-point performance in her native state of Indiana in a 107-102 overtime win over the Fever on Wednesday.
Her 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left forced the extra period, helping Tulsa (6-7) battle back from what had been a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.
"They’re very aggressive and tough and they make it tough to get to the basket," said Diggins, who totaled 38 points as Tulsa split two meetings with Los Angeles earlier this month. "I was just finally able to get some things going, get some baskets in transition and some shots finally started falling down."
Diggins is the league’s only player among the top five in scoring and assists, averaging 5.2 per game.
The Shock, who are 4-1 at home, have won six of eight while averaging 86.1 points per game after averaging 77.2 during an 0-5 start.
Parker, a two-time MVP and the Rookie of the Year in 2008, is right behind Diggins with 20.2 points per game – the second-highest average in her career behind a 20.6 mark in 2010.
The seventh-year forward tallied 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in Tuesday’s 65-57 home win over Seattle as Los Angeles (5-8) held the Storm to their fewest points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. The Sparks had been outscored 21-16 in the third.
Parker blocked a season-high four shots for Los Angeles, which had dropped five of six.
"I think we played good defense for the most part, and that’s been the trend this season is just playing defense, and certain plays escape us," said Parker, who averages 1.2 blocks. "But this game we were able to kind of correct our problems and make plays down the stretch and do what works for us."
The Sparks have also dropped four of five away from home, which includes a 69-67 loss in Tulsa on June 13. Diggins hit a tiebreaking jumper with 1.9 seconds left in that one.
Parker has totaled 42 points in the two meetings but was just 12 for 30 from the field.