Wings visit struggling Liberty

The Dallas Wings and New York Liberty reside in the second-to-last spot in their respective conferences but there are stark differences.

While the Wings are over .500, the Liberty own one of the league’s worst records and are well short of being in playoff contention.

The Wings go for their 10th win while the Liberty try to avoid their 14th loss Sunday afternoon when the teams get together at the Westchester Civic Center in White Plains, N.Y.

Like the NBA, the Western Conference has more teams with a winning record and, since the league’s playoff format is putting the top eight in regardless of conference, there is more jockeying out west. The only losing team of the six teams are the Las Vegas Aces, which is why Dallas (9-8) is fifth.

As for New York (5-13), it owns the league’s second-worst record, and several of its recent losses are double-digit contests.

Dallas is among the league’s most productive offenses at 85.7 points per game. It has topped 85 points in eight games and is 7-1 when doing so. The Wings followed up a 108-85 home win against the Chicago Sky on Tuesday with a 90-63 home victory over the Indiana Fever on Thursday.

Azura Stevens scored a career-high 26 points in a game in which Dallas dominated the paint by getting 38 points, outrebounded Indiana by a 47-22 margin and allowed 35 percent shooting.

Stevens is averaging 7.7 points but has reached double figures in four of her last seven outings.

“I thought her footwork was really good,” Dallas coach Fred Williams said. “She was just really energetic getting to the rim. She’s really blossoming for us.”

It was also the first game Dallas was not led in scoring by Skylar Diggins-Smith or Liz Cambage. Diggins-Smith is averaging 18.5 points while Cambage is at 20.6 points per game.

The Wings could use another productive night since the schedule is about to become tougher. After completing a week of playing the three worst teams in the East, next week features a home game with the Phoenix Mercury followed by visits to the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm.

“They come to work every day, practice. You saw how they enjoy playing with each other,” Williams said. “Everybody is starting to get in rhythm with each other. They just really, really like playing with each other.”

Off to their worst start since 2006 and their second-worst start overall, the Liberty would like to find some rhythm and secondary scoring.

New York is 1-7 in its last eight games and is averaging 75.3 points. During this skid, six of the losses are by double digits and the Liberty have been held under 80 points six times.

Those include the last two defeats, double-digit setbacks to Seattle and the Washington Mystics. The Liberty scored just eight points in the fourth quarter on Thursday and were handed an 86-67 loss at Washington.

Tina Charles scored 26 points but had little help. The other player in double figures was Epiphanny Prince, who shot 3 of 11 and scored 11 points.

“Right now, we’re beating ourselves in a lot of games in a variety of ways,” New York coach Katie Smith said after Tuesday’s loss to Seattle. “We’re not very consistent. If we decide as a unit that we’re done with this and we’re tired of it, there could be some good things.”

New York recorded a 94-89 victory over Dallas on May 29 in its third game of the season when Charles scored a season-best 34 points.