Candace Parker has struggled in two games since returning from a knee injury. While she and the Los Angeles Sparks may be dealing with some fatigue, that certainly isn't the case for their next opponent.
In the third meeting between these teams in less than two weeks, the visiting Sparks will try to avoid a fifth straight loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars on Thursday.San Antonio and Los Angeles are becoming quite familiar with one another, with the Silver Stars beating the Sparks 98-85 on June 16 and 91-71 on Sunday.The two losses are part of a busy stretch for Los Angeles (10-5), which is playing for the eighth time in 14 days Thursday. The schedule may be taking its toll, with the team losing the last two games by double digits.The Sparks followed their fourth consecutive defeat to the Silver Stars with a 91-75 loss at Tulsa on Tuesday. Before those two defeats, the Sparks had won three straight while averaging 96.3 points.Parker missed the final game of that win streak with a sore knee and has not played well offensively since returning. Averaging 18.2 points, Parker scored only five of her 15 points in the second half Sunday. The former MVP shot 6 of 17 in that game and was 1 of 6 on Tuesday for a season-low two points.She did not attempt a shot in the second half against the Shock, and the Sparks couldn't come back after falling behind 48-25 at the break."I thought we had the right mindset to make a run, but Tulsa responded and hit some big shots," coach Carol Ross said.Ross' team will get some relief from this busy stretch with a week off after Thursday's game.San Antonio (5-5) is on the opposite end. It has played the fewest games in the WNBA, playing just once between its two victories over the Sparks.The light schedule has likely helped the Silver Stars, who lost four of their first six games while contending with a young lineup besides Becky Hammon and Sophia Young."I think we're a team that is coming together in different ways," coach Dan Hughes said. "We're a team that relies on our bench, so I think it takes us longer to get into a groove."Besides winning three of four overall, San Antonio is 3-0 at home this month.Young has played well in the two victories over Los Angeles, averaging 22.0 points and shooting 18 of 28.