Sparks salivate over chance to pay back Wings

Don’t poke the bear.

That might be the lesson for teams when preparing to play the Los Angeles Sparks when they’re coming off a loss.

So, thanks a lot, Seattle. And, Dallas, thanks a bunch, as well.

The Sparks zoomed to the top of the standings as they reeled off five straight wins after being blown out by the Storm on June 7. On Friday, that streak was soundly snapped when the Dallas Wings beat the Sparks 101-72

How did the Sparks respond?

Los Angeles (9-3) bounced back and started a new streak by clobbering the New York Liberty by 26 points on Sunday. And now the Sparks are licking their chops at a chance to avenge that 29-point loss to the Wings when Dallas (6-6) invades the Staples Center on Tuesday.

And Dallas coach Fred Williams expects the Sparks to come out from the get-go looking for revenge.

“They are going to remember the score, that’s for sure,” Williams said after the dominating win. “We’ll have to stay on our game and face the challenge of going there.”

Dallas is coming off its own blowout loss, a 97-76 decision to Seattle on Sunday.

Sparks coach Brian Agler didn’t need to watch video of the team’s loss to Dallas or the Wings’ loss to the Storm to know the key to winning.

“Your offense complements your defense and your defense complements your offense,” Agler analyzed. “If you get stops, then you can play in transition. If you score, then you make the other team take the ball out of bounds.

“So, from our standpoint, we weren’t scoring so they were constantly in transition. And they came down and scored quick on us.”

In the win over the Liberty, Riquna Williams was doing most of the scoring, which allowed the Sparks’ defense to set up and stop Tina Charles and company. Williams hit seven 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 25 points.

The Sparks held the Liberty to 38.3 percent from the field and outrebounded New York 39-31. The Sparks turned the ball over just nine times and forced the Liberty to commit 15 turnovers.

Los Angeles will need that same kind of effort if they want to serve up a cold dish of revenge and stay on top of the WNBA standings.

Liz Cambage will be the focus of the Sparks’ defense. In Friday’s blowout win, Cambage went 9 of 10 from the field. In Sunday’s loss to the Storm, Cambage was still stellar.

She scored 20 first-half points on her way to a game-high 23.

“We just weren’t hungry enough to win the game,” Cambage said. “We need to come ready to play. We need to bring energy, and we need to be better.”

Los Angeles can’t sleep on Skylar Diggins-Smith, who comes in averaging 19.2 points per game.

Sparks All-Star Nneka Ogwumike talked about the importance of defense and containing the Wings’ transition game.

“It’s tough when you’re not getting the shots you want to get,” she said. “That puts you out of position both for O-boards and also defense. They (the Wings) capitalized on that, they were getting all the rebounds; they were getting all the runs.”

The Sparks bolstered their bench with the signing Sunday of sharp-shooting Karli Samuelson.

“We’re really excited to bring Karlie back into the fold,” general manager Penny Toler said in news release. “Karlie showed she can play at the WNBA level with her ability to shoot from the perimeter. She will immediately add value to our team.”

Los Angeles brought in Samuelson during training camp and then released her after four games when Jantel Lavender returned from playing in Europe.