The Los Angeles Sparks' road trip gets a lot harder after they started it by losing to two of the worst teams in the WNBA.
The next matchup comes against the best team in the league, and the defending champion Minnesota Lynx have won eight straight as Seimone Augustus closes in on becoming the franchise's all-time top scorer heading into Wednesday night.Los Angeles (19-8) was the hottest team in the league with nine consecutive wins going into this five-game trip, but it's looking for answers after double-digit losses to Tulsa and Chicago -- teams that have a combined 16-36 mark.The Sparks blew a 10-point halftime lead and finished with 19 turnovers in an 85-74 loss to the Sky on Sunday."They were really aggressive and really asserted themselves with aggressive play," coach Carol Ross said. "I thought they did a terrific job defensively. It was very hard for us to run our offense and get good looks. Their hands were quick and we turned the ball over way too many times."Los Angeles figures to face a bigger challenge in Minnesota (21-4), which leads the league by holding opponents to 39.8 percent shooting. These teams have split two high-scoring affairs, though, with Minnesota winning 92-84 at home May 24 before Los Angeles won 96-90 at home July 5.Augustus, seventh in the league with 17.9 points per game, needs nine to break Katie Smith's record of 3,605. She had 18 points as Minnesota rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit in a 92-83 home win over the Shock on Friday.Rebekkah Brunson had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Lynx, who feel they can play better despite being on their longest win streak since their 10-0 start."We know we still have some improvement to do," Brunson said.The Lynx lead the Western Conference by three games over the Sparks, who are 1 1/2 up on third-place San Antonio for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.Minnesota will be focusing on slowing down Kristi Toliver and Candace Parker on Wednesday.Toliver is averaging 18.7 points to rank third in the WNBA, and the point guard is averaging 26.0 points and 51.9 percent shooting against Minnesota this season. Parker, sixth in the league at 17.4 points per game, is averaging 25.5 and 58.1 percent shooting in the season series.Parker, however, has been slumping. The former league MVP has scored 12.2 points per game and shot 41.2 percent in her last six contests.Toliver has picked up the slack by averaging 23.0 points and hitting 65.3 percent from the field in the same span.