Sparks-Silver Stars Preview

The Los Angeles Sparks have lost two of three after a six-game winning streak, but all they need is one win in their final four games to clinch a playoff berth.

The San Antonio Silver Stars, meanwhile, may need every victory they can get.

The Sparks will try to punch their ticket to the postseason Saturday night in San Antonio, where they begin a home-and-home series that could make or break the Silver Stars' playoff hopes.

Los Angeles (15-15) didn't look like it was going to be a part of the postseason in late July, starting 5-10 as reigning league MVP Candace Parker worked her way back into playing shape after giving birth and Lisa Leslie dealt with a right knee sprain.

A six-game run put the Sparks back in playoff position, though they missed their first chance to guarantee they'd be there Tuesday. Los Angeles led Atlanta by seven points near the end of the third quarter, but went cold in the fourth and lost 84-79.

"This was a game we gave away,'' Sparks coach Michael Cooper said. "When the game got tough, they took it to us and we couldn't recover. We got pushed and shoved. It's not just about the fundamentals. It's about being tough.''

Los Angeles didn't get much from anyone other than Parker, Leslie and Tina Thompson, who combined for 58 points. Those three made 25 of 43 shots, but the rest of the team shot 9 of 31.

San Antonio (13-17) shot 50.8 percent from the field in its latest game while Minnesota made 32.5 percent, yet the Silver Stars still had to sweat out a victory. Becky Hammon had 19 of her 29 points after the third quarter to lead her team to an 84-82 double-overtime win against the Lynx on Tuesday, lifting San Antonio into sole possession of fourth place in the West.

It was the Silver Stars' second straight overtime win, following a 100-88 victory over Detroit last Saturday behind 32 from Hammon and 31 from Sophia Young.

"Well, we apparently we like to make it interesting,'' Hammon said. "We fought, and clawed back, and again it took overtime, but we'll take 'Ws.' Doesn't matter how many minutes it takes, just as long as you walk away with the win.''

San Antonio and Los Angeles needed more than 40 minutes to decide their last meeting, a 67-66 Sparks win at the AT&T Center on Aug. 21. Young's 31 points weren't enough as Parker led Los Angeles with 17 and 12 rebounds to help it overcome its 30.9 percent shooting effort.

Hammon had 20 points in San Antonio's 63-59 win at Staples Center on Aug. 4, a game Leslie and Thompson combined to shoot 6 of 32 from the field.

The teams wrap up their regular-season series Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Calendar Strip here