WNBA.com Power Rankings: July 26, 2005

With the regular season ending a month from tomorrow (August 27), things are getting serious. Okay, so they were always serious, but now they are getting even more serious. The equality that we saw at this point last season in the Eastern Conference is not as evident, as only four teams, Connecticut, Indiana, New York and Washington, have winning records. The Shock still have an outside chance at making the playoffs, but theyneed to do some serious work to recover. In the West, only one game separates four teams currently in second through fifth places. The race between Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle and Minnesota for three playoff spots will be quite entertaining, so stay tuned and let the game of musical chairs begin.

2005 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: Week Nine
TEAM (last)
1 16-5The Sun looked vulnerable on the road in Detroit last week, but still won their other two games of the week against the Sting to stay ahead of the pace and on track for the best overall record in the league. Connecticut continues to get it done with balance. In Friday's win over the Sting, Nykesha Sales scored 17 of her game-high 21 in the second half, Lindsay Whalen posted 14 points and seven assists, while Katie Douglas chipped in with 13 points and five steals.
Upcoming: vs. Indiana; vs. New York

The Fever move up into the second overall spot this week, the highest they have ever been in the history of the Power Rankings. And they are proving that they are more than just a one-trick pony. Don't get us wrong, Tamika Catchings is ridiculously good and a two-time Player of the Week already this season, but in a 63-46 road victory Saturday over the Sting, Ebony Hoffman and Jurgita Streimikyte scored 13 points apiece to lead the Fever, who improved to 9-1 vs. Eastern Conference opponents.
Upcoming: at Connecticut; vs. Washington

3 14-7Tough break for the first place Monarchs to drop a spot after their 40-point win over the Shock on Sunday night, but they did lose two in a row last werk prior to their convincing victory. In Sunday's win, Nicole Powell scored a career-high 25 points for Sacramento, which outscored Detroit 58-24 after halftime. Kara Lawson netted 14 points and Rebekkah Brunson tallied 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
Upcoming: vs. Charlotte; vs. Los Angeles
12-10Four wins in a row and the Seattle Storm are back. Not that they were ever gone, but the Storm have some serious momentum on their side and some time to rest. Betty Lennox continues to come up big for the Storm, having hit the game-winner against the Shock on Saturday. Meanwhile, Lauren Jackson is showing no signs of her sore ankle and is quietly posting MVP numbers again, third in the league in scoring and second in rebounding.
Upcoming: vs. Charlotte; vs. Los Angeles
5 11-9The Sparks were surprised at home by the surging Mystics, but began their long road trip by knocking off the Comets on Saturday. Every game is critical for playoff positioning at this point and the road trip will go a long way towards determining if the Sparks can and will pull it together in the home stretch.
Upcoming: at Phoenix; at Sacramento
11-9Talk about road warriors, the New York Liberty began their road trip 10 days ago knowing that it could make or break their season. Well, wins in Minnesota, Sacramento and Phoenix certainly didn't hurt, and now the Liberty seem poised to make the playoffs yet again. Now they return home for a matchup with the wounded Comets, who are looking for some revenge after the Liberty won in OT in Houston just two weeks ago.
Upcoming: vs. Houston; at Connecticut
7 11-10Talk about big wins on the road, the Mystics just finished a west coast road trip of their own that proved to be quite successful as well. Led by Beard, Milton-Jones and Temeka Johnson, Washington beat both the Sparks and the Comets in their arenas last week, thus finishing off the champions checklist, having now beaten every former WNBA champion so far this season. Now having been off for five days, the Mystics return home and look to sustain their momentum.
Upcoming: vs. Houston; vs. San Antonio
12-9 If you are looking for proof that anything and everything can happen in the WNBA, and often without a plausible explanation, look no further than the Houston Comets. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Comets were riding a five-game winning streak and looked to be within earshot of taking over the conference lead. Since the All-Star break, they have lost four of six games, including both games since Olympian Tina Thompson returned from maternity leave. Chemistry is a tricky thing, so look for Van Chancellor to experiment with various lineup looks until he gets his team back on track.
Upcoming: at Washington; at New York
11-10The Lynx have been bitten by the inconsistency bug themselves lately as well. They have lost two of their last three, all home games, to some of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. A 19-point loss to the Sun and a 12-point loss to the Liberty sandwiched a 21-point win over the Fever. Go figure. One cause for concern is the rapid decline in Katie Smith's scoring. The frontcourt is picking up the slack in Hayden and Ohlde, but Smith needs to pick it up in the Lynx want to return to the playoffs.
Upcoming: at San Antonio; vs. Phoenix
Phoenix (11)
8-12The Mercury are still very much alive in the playoff race, having won five of their last six games. The only question is whether the early season hole that they fell into was too deep to climb out of. But even without Diana Taurasi in key games, who has suffered multiple injuries to her knee, the Mercury have proven they can win. Penny Taylor and Kamila Vodichkova stepped up in the All-Star's absence in Saturday's win over San Antonio. Taylor finished with a game-high 22 points and Vodichkova added 19 and 12 rebounds.
Upcoming: vs. Los Angeles; at Minnesota
Detroit (10)
8-12The last thing a struggling team needs is a tightly-packed road trip with a lot of games in a few days. While the Liberty and Mystics responded favorably, the Shock have continued to struggle. Back-to-back losses in Seattle and Sacramento over the weekend were bad, but the game in Sacramento was really bad. 40-point losses are rare in the WNBA and usually indicative of greater problems. The Shock are not out of it yet and have the talent to turn things around. The real question is whether or not they have the focus.
Upcoming: at Connecticut; vs. Phoenix
12 5-17Two more losses in the past week and San Antonio is on ther verge of being mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. The good news is that word out of Silver Stars camp is that LaToya Thomas might be back from her injury sooner than expected. Having players together healthy on the court only makes things better and more comfortable when things come back around in 2006.
Upcoming: vs. Minneota; at Washington
3-18There may not be much going right with the Sting this season, but one reason to continue cheering for Charlotte is the play of point guard Dawn Staley. Staley has hinted that this could be her last season as a WNBA player and what better way to enjoy the rest of the summer than watch a legend in her own time still getting done. Fans on the west coast will have their chance as the Sting will face what may prove to be their most difficult road trip of the season beginning this week.
Upcoming: at Sacramento, at Seattle