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Lynx-Sparks Preview

Jun 12, 2010 - 5:12 PM By MATT BECKER STATS Senior Writer

Minnesota (2-8) at Los Angeles (2-7), 3:00 p.m. EDT

Los Angeles was expected to contend for the WNBA title this year, but with Candace Parker hurting and her teammates struggling to pick up the slack, the Sparks are one of the biggest disappointments in the league.

Coach Jennifer Gillom hopes a game against the last-place Minnesota Lynx can help Los Angeles get out of its funk.

The Sparks will try to send the Lynx to their ninth loss in 10 games when the league's bottom two teams meet Sunday at Staples Center.

Los Angeles (2-7) advanced to the Western Conference finals in 2009, but hasn't come close to building off that success. The Sparks are one of the worst defensive teams, allowing an average of 85.0 points on 45.1 percent shooting, and Parker is getting little help on the offensive end.

Parker leads the team with 21.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, but was slowed by an injured left shoulder in Friday's 82-60 loss to league-leading Seattle. After going to the locker room late in the first quarter, she returned to the court in the second but finished with only 13 points and seven rebounds.

"It's OK," Parker said of her shoulder after the game.

Despite the injury, Parker was the only consistent offensive presence for the Sparks, who trailed by as many as 15 in the opening quarter.

"I really wasn't pleased with our effort. I don't think we matched (Seattle's) intensity at all," said Gillom, who coached the Lynx to a 14-20 record last year. "Hopefully we'll learn from this and move on and be ready for Minnesota. If not, it's going to be a long season."

The Sparks went 3-1 against the Lynx in 2009, outscoring them by an average of 22.0 points in winning the two games in Los Angeles. Parker averaged 11.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in the three games she played.

While Los Angeles' slow start is surprising, Minnesota's is somewhat expected.

The Lynx's top three players have missed time this season. Rebekkah Brunson started the year on the suspended list because of overseas commitments, Candice Wiggins missed the first six games recovering from knee surgery, and Seimone Augustus was out the first nine after having non-cancerous tumors removed.

The three were finally together in Thursday's 99-88 loss to Phoenix. Augustus had 13 points in her season debut, while Wiggins scored 19 and Brunson added 15 for the Lynx (2-8), who lost their third straight.

Augustus, who has averaged 21.2 points in her career, had 30 points and nine rebounds in her only game against the Sparks last season as Minnesota won 87-76 on June 10.

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