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Preview: Sparks (14-18) at Dream (13-18)
Date: September 09, 2015 7:00 PM EDT
Candace Parker seems to be finding her form at the right time and the Los Angeles Sparks are rolling heading into yet another postseason trip.
They’ll try to match their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday night when they visit the Atlanta Dream.
Los Angeles (14-18) has enjoyed a strong turnaround in the second half of the season coinciding with Candace Parker’s return after she missed the club’s first 16 games to rest. The Sparks have won 11 of 15 and three in a row, securing their 15th playoff berth in 17 years with Sunday’s 92-73 victory over Tulsa.
They shot 60.7 percent and Parker scored a season-high 33 on 12-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists. She’s averaging 22.4 points over her last eight games compared to 16.4 in her first eight, and she’s averaging a double-double for the second time in her career with 10.1 rebounds.
Nneka Ogwumike has also been a potent second option for Los Angeles, totaling 50 points on 17-of-22 shooting with 19 rebounds over her last two games. She had missed the previous six games due to concussion-like symptoms.
The Sparks have scored 90-plus three times in their last six, but Parker still has her sights set on improvement.
“I think we can play better,” said Parker, who hit a career-high five 3-pointers against the Shock. “Everyone is feeling good but I still think that there is better basketball and our best basketball is still ahead of us.”
Atlanta (13-18) won for the fourth time in six games with Sunday’s 73-67 victory over Washington. Angel McCoughtry’s 18 points led a balanced offensive effort – Tiffany Hayes added 17 points and Sancho Lyttle had 16 – yet the Dream are on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention. They haven’t missed the playoffs since their inaugural 2008 season.
They won the first meeting 76-72 in Los Angeles on July 16, going ahead on Aneika Henry’s basket with 29 seconds left. Henry scored a career-high 16 off the bench to complement McCoughtry’s 22 points.
Parker didn’t play for the Sparks, who were led by Jantel Lavender’s 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The Dream have won three of four at home and five straight there in the series, last losing 91-87 on Aug. 23, 2009. Los Angeles is 5-2 on the road after opening 0-8.