Sparks hope to stay unbeaten at home against Sun

The Los Angeles Sparks will try to remain unbeaten at home when they play a Thursday evening game at Staples Center against a red-hot Connecticut Sun squad.

The Sparks (12-5) are second in the WNBA’s Western Conference, two games behind the first-place Minnesota Lynx. Los Angeles is 8-2 in its last 10 games and 7-0 at home this season, but the Sparks are reeling after back-to-back losses.

The Sun (11-7) are sitting atop the Eastern Conference, holding a one-game lead over Washington.

Connecticut won its fifth straight game on Wednesday, beating the Storm 83-79 in Seattle. The Sun are 9-2 in their last 11 games and 7-4 on the road this season.

The Sparks are happy to be coming home after dropping two games on the road last week. They suffered an 88-77 loss to Minnesota on July 6 and an 81-69 loss to Seattle on Saturday.

Reigning WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike had 27 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to Minnesota. She had 21 points and nine rebounds against Seattle.

The Sparks shot nearly 49 percent against Minnesota, but they shot only 37.1 percent against Seattle. They combined to go 8 of 39 from 3-point range in those two contests.

Los Angeles is well within striking distance of Minnesota, the team the Sparks defeated to win the WNBA championship last season, but coach Brian Agler is still waiting for this year’s team to ascend to that level.

“I had a better feel for our team a year ago at this moment (in the season) than I have with our team this year,” Agler told ESPN.com. “I’m trying to get a great feel for who can do what, and so I think our team is still evolving. I don’t think we’re close to our best. I don’t know what our best is.”

The Sun pulled off the biggest comeback in team history Saturday, rallying from a 22-point, third-quarter deficit to beat Washington 96-92.

“We hyped each other up, energized each other, supported each other, and we came out with the win,” Connecticut guard Alex Bentley told the Hartford Courant.

Jonquel Jones scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures for Connecticut. She offered a clear explanation when asked how her team managed to come back.

“It’s our relentless attitude,” Jones told the Courant. “We play with a chip on our shoulders. We play with an us-against-the-world mentality. When you have that kind of attitude, you learn to come back from big deficits.”

The Sun followed that win with the victory in Seattle. Shekinna Stricklen scored a season-high 21 points and hit 7 of 10 3-point shots in that contest for the Sun, who will try to avoid a letdown as they play their second road game in two days in Los Angeles.