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20080727/LASMIN
Sparks-Lynx Preview
By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA, STATS Senior Writer

Regaining three stars didn't help the Los Angeles Sparks end their struggles. Losing two of the WNBA's top rookies, meanwhile, has failed to slow down the Minnesota Lynx.

With their trio of Olympians back, the Sparks look to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season Sunday when they face a Lynx team hoping to have first-year players Candice Wiggins and Charde Houston on the floor.

Los Angeles (14-12) lost 69-68 at New York on Friday night even though it had Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, and DeLisha Milton-Jones back from one-game suspensions for their involvement in Tuesday's altercation with Detroit.

That wasn't enough to help the Sparks avoid their second straight loss and ninth defeat in 13 games. This will be Los Angeles' final game before the WNBA's monthlong Olympic break. Leslie, Parker and Milton-Jones will all be in Beijing to represent the United States.

The Sparks, trying to hold on to fourth place in the Western Conference, are in danger of matching their longest losing streak of the season, set from June 26-July 3.

Los Angeles will have Shannon Bobbitt back after a two-game suspension for her role in the scuffle with the Shock. Murriel Page, though, will miss one more game.

Parker, the top pick in this year's WNBA draft, was unable to make up for their absence Friday as she was held to 13 points - her lowest total in three weeks. She leads Los Angeles with 18.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists a contest.

Wiggins, meanwhile, missed Minnesota's 78-68 win over West-leading San Antonio on Friday night. The draft's third overall selection bruised her lower back when she fell in an overtime win over Indiana on Thursday night and is listed as day-to-day.

The Lynx (13-12) also were without Houston, who bruised her left knee against the Fever and is day-to-day. Wiggins is averaging 16.4 points while Houston adds 7.5 per game off the bench, but their absence didn't stop Minnesota from winning for the third time in four contests.

The Lynx, one-half game behind the Sparks, will be trying to win three straight for the first time since starting the season 5-0.

Minnesota prevailed Friday partly due to its usual production from Seimone Augustus, who will join Los Angeles' stars on the U.S. Olympic team. Augustus, who tops the Lynx with 19.5 points per game, had 20 versus the Silver Stars.

Augustus led all scorers with 29 points in Minnesota's 88-70 win at Los Angeles on July 3. It was one of the best offensive games of the season for the Lynx, who shot 50 percent (31-for-62) from the field.

The Sparks, meanwhile, got 26 points from Leslie, but shot 36.8 percent (25-for-68).

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