Sparks-Liberty Preview

The last-place New York Liberty appeared to be headed in the right direction, but they saw their woes resume with an ugly loss their last time out.

The Liberty try to bounce back against Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks, who go for a third consecutive win in the series Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, New York (7-12) had won a season-best three straight – all at home – before falling 80-66 at San Antonio on Wednesday. Sugar Rodgers scored a season-high 21 points off the bench and Cappie Pondexter added 17, but Tina Charles finished with six on 3-of-9 shooting.

The Liberty, outscored 51-31 in the first and third quarters, held a 41-34 rebounding edge but committed 16 turnovers to the Stars’ 10.

"We’ve been playing very hard, playing good basketball and tonight we just didn’t have it for whatever reason and they took it to us," said coach Bill Laimbeer, whose team trailed by as many as 23.

While the Liberty have dropped a WNBA-worst eight of nine on the road, they are 6-4 at home, where they’ve averaged 88.5 points in the last two games.

Another high-scoring display could prove key against Los Angeles (7-11), which took both of last year’s meetings while averaging 91.0 points. Pondexter was terrific in those losses, posting a combined 56 points.

The Sparks are hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss after opening a four-game road swing with Tuesday’s 83-72 defeat to Minnesota. Los Angeles was outscored 27-13 in the fourth quarter.

"We didn’t have an answer and that’s when you’ve got to be at your best," coach Carol Ross said.

Center Jantel Lavender had 17 points and Parker scored 16 while shooting 5 of 18. Los Angeles went 27 of 80 (33.8 percent) from the floor while the Lynx were 33 for 61 (54.1).

"We had 20 more shots than they did, so I’d like to think next time we’d shoot a little bit better and execute down the stretch," Parker said.

Parker, averaging team highs of 20.0 points and 4.8 assists, will start for the West opposite Pondexter in next weekend’s All-Star game. Last year’s All-Star MVP, Parker also made the team in 2011 but didn’t play due to injury.

"It means a lot," she said. "Obviously it’s only my second game and early on I was injured and pregnant and all that jazz, so it’s nice to be there and not be at home looking at it on the couch."

Parker is averaging 16.3 points over a seven-game stretch on the road. She scores 21.8 per game at home.