for this game

Sparks-Monarchs Preview

Jul 31, 2009 - 6:36 PM By ALAN FERGUSON STATS Writer

Los Angeles (5-10) at Sacramento (5-15), 10:00 p.m. EDT

The Los Angeles Sparks and Sacramento Monarchs have proved to be two of the WNBA's most consistent franchises by reaching the playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons.

This year, the league's two worst clubs, who meet Saturday night in Sacramento, could be watching postseason play if they cannot change their fortunes quickly.

Los Angeles, which returned to the playoffs last season after ending a streak of eight straight appearances in 2007, enters play two games behind San Antonio for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

The Sparks (5-10), though, have yet to earn consecutive victories this season and are 2-4 coming into the finale of their season-high seven-game road trip.

Even reigning MVP Candace Parker's return from maternity leave hasn't ignited the team as she's labored to get back to last season's form. In seven games, she's averaged 7.1 points and 6.6 rebounds after registering 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game a year ago.

A return to her home state didn't help as she scored nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in a 75-63 loss at Chicago on Wednesday. However, Parker grabbed 10 rebounds for a third straight game.

"It's going to be a process coming back," she said. "Obviously, I'm nowhere near what I was last year. Basketball is so mental, and when you're used to doing some things you have that swagger about you. Some of that's gone and I've got to get it back, but it will eventually come."

The Sparks have also allowed 58.0 points in their victories this season but 83.3 points in the defeats. However, they had one of their best defensive performances June 21 against the Monarchs at Staples Center.

In a 67-47 win, Los Angeles held Sacramento to season lows in points and shooting (25.8 percent).

The league-worst Monarchs (5-15) had one of their most balanced offensive efforts this season in Thursday's 101-93 victory over visiting San Antonio and moved within 4 1/2 games of the Silver Stars in the West.

For its second win in three games, Sacramento had five players reach double figures, led by Nicole Powell's 21 points.

After averaging 72.8 points during a six-game slide, the Monarchs have averaged 87.3 points in their last three contests.

"We're trying to get back into the playoffs mix, if we can talk about playoffs at all," said guard Ticha Penicheiro, whose team has made six straight postseason appearances. "We're just trying to take it one game at a time. Today was the first day and now we're focusing on L.A."

The Monarchs, who won consecutive games for the first time this season July 2-7, split two home games with the Sparks last season but have won six of the last eight matchups at Arco Arena, including the 2006 Western Conference finals.

  • 5
    #1 Cards Fan Added 5 roots

    Sparks 59, Monarchs 56  FinalAug 2 12:53 PM

  • WNBA

    Aug 2 12:04 AM

  • WNBA

    Aug 1 10:39 PM