for this game

Monarchs-Sparks Preview

Jun 20, 2009 - 8:05 PM By KATE HEDLIN STATS Writer

Sacramento (1-4) at Los Angeles (1-4), 9:30 p.m. EDT

After a tough stretch on the road, the Los Angeles Sparks are happy to be home. They'd probably be more optimistic about their upcoming schedule, though, if Lisa Leslie was healthy enough to play.

The Sparks may be missing Leslie on Sunday when they try to snap their longest losing streak in nearly two years in a matchup with the Sacramento Monarchs.

The Sparks (1-4) have lost four in a row since opening the season with a 75-58 home win over Detroit on June 6. All four losses came on the road, including an 89-80 defeat at Phoenix on Friday.

Betty Lennox scored 16 points to lead Los Angeles, and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 15 points and eight rebounds. Already without 2008 leading scorer Candace Parker (maternity leave), Los Angeles lost its second-leading scorer from last year when Leslie left late in the first quarter with a right hip bruise.

Leslie would not return and is listed as day-to-day.

"Luckily it's nothing too serious," coach Michael Cooper said. "Hopefully we'll have her back in a week or so. Obviously we care and feel for her but we have got to go on without her and luckily our next game is at home."

The Sparks, riding their worst losing streak since a five-game skid from Aug. 3-11, 2007, plays three of their next four at home. They were 12-5 last season at Staples Center.

Leslie helped Los Angeles to a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter Friday, but the team was outscored 13-2 to end the game.

"We were not concentrating enough or tough enough," Cooper said. "When they're making those runs you have got to score and we weren't able to score."

The Sparks are near the bottom of the league in scoring at 69.4 points per game and field-goal shooting at 38.4 percent.

Their offense could get a boost by facing the Monarchs (1-4), who have allowed an average of 100.5 points in losing their last two games.

On Tuesday, Sacramento fell 86-83 at home to Minnesota after missing two 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Nicole Powell scored 19 points and Laura Harper added 13 points and nine rebounds, but Sacramento committed 16 turnovers to Minnesota's eight.

The Monarchs are averaging 81.6 points, but they're giving up 84.6 per game, including a WNBA-record 115 points in an overtime loss to Phoenix last week.

"Our defense is what keeps us stable," Monarchs guard Chelsea Newton said after Tuesday's loss. "We have a whole week to work on our defense and that is our focus."

The Monarchs were without Ticha Penicheiro for a third straight game as she continues to be bothered by a sprained right thumb. The veteran point guard is the WNBA's career leader in assists and steals.

The Sparks won two of three against the Monarchs last season, and they've won the last five meetings at Staples Center.