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Preview: Shock @ Sparks

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Tale of the Tape:
2011 Record vs LA Sparks: 1-4
Current Streaks: Lost one overall

Los Angeles Sparks Season Leaders:
Points: Kristi Toliver (21.0)
Rebounds: Candace Parker (7.8)
Assists: Kristi Toliver (4.5)

Tulsa Shock Season Leaders:
Points: Temeka Johnson/Ivory Latta (15.3)
Rebounds: Glory Johnson (5.0)
Assists: Temeka Johnson (6.7)

Projected Starting Lineups:

Los Angeles Sparks
G - Kristi Toliver
G - Alana Beard
F - Nneka Ogwumike
F - Delisha Milton-Jones
C - Candace Parker

Tulsa Shock
G Ivory Latta
GTemeka Johnson
F Scholanda Dorrell
F Kayla Pedersen
C Chante Black

The Match Up:
The Tulsa Shock are coming off three consecutive close losses to open the 2012 season, most recently to the Washington Mystics on Saturday May 26. Despite a 14-0 run and winning the fourth quarter by 10 points (18-8), a late Shock rally fell short as they were defeated by the Mystics, 64-61, at the Verizon Center. Down by as many 16 in the second half, the Shock opened the fourth quarter on a 14-2 to cut the Mystics' double-digit lead to just one, 58-57, after Ivory Latta made one of two free throws with with 3:49 left in the game. A Glory Johnson layup with 1:14 left cut the Mystics lead to 63-61 but the Shock were unable to capitalize on consecutive possessions that could have tied the game. After consecutive turnovers by both teams, Crystal Langhorne made one-of-two free throws to the extend the Mystics lead to 64-61 with 3.9 seconds left to play but the Shock were unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded and Washington prevailed for its first victory of the season.

The Los Angeles Sparks have opened the season winning three out of their first four, most recently defeating the Mercury in Phoenix, 99-88. The Sparks only loss of the season came at the hands of the undefeated Minnesota Lynx. Number one overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, Nnemkadi Ogwumike has gotten her rookie season off to an incredible start, posting back-to-back 20-point games on 16-of-25 shooting on the road against Minnesota and Phoenix. Ogwumike leads all rookies in scoring and reboudning early in the season.

What to Watch for:
Fourth overall pick Glory Johnson will likely match-up head-to-head against Ogwumike for stretches of this game which will provide a glimpse into the future of the league at the hybrid forward position. The Shock are looking for a way to finish close games in order to earn their first victory of the season. The team has responded to Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg's pressure defense as they have forced 20-plus turnovers in all three games to date but have been unable to convert the turnovers into made baskets on the offensive end.

The return of an injury free Candace Parker has boosted the Sparks from being out of the playoff picture in 2011 to being contenders for the 2012 title. Parker has gotten off to an incredible start, averaging 20.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.8 blocks a game for the second-place Sparks. Parker is being complemented by Kristi Tolliver who leads the team with 21.0 points a game in her new role as the starting point guard. The Shock will need great team defense if they hope to contain Parker's all-around game.

The Shock and Sparks will tip-off on Tuesday May 29 at 9:30 pm (CT), at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

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