Making it to this weekend's All-Star break in one piece might be the goal for the Los Angeles Sparks.
L.A. looks to avoid losing two in a row for the first time in a month while trying to hand the host Atlanta Dream a season-high fifth straight loss Tuesday night.
Los Angeles (10-8) played the last three games with just eight players as Candace Parker (ankle), Alana Beard (hamstring), Alexis Jones (knee) and Maria Vadeeva (knee) are all hurt and Riquna Williams is currently suspended. Remarkably, the Sparks have managed to hold their own for the most part. Their three-game winning streak ended even with a gritty effort in an 84-78 loss at New York on Saturday.
Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points with 12 rebounds for L.A., which trailed by as many as 12 but got within one point several times in the second half. New York went to the free-throw line 39 times, making 27, compared to a 12-of-16 day at the stripe for Los Angeles.
"We got good looks down the stretch in the fourth," said Sparks star guard Chelsea Gray, who scored 19 and made three of their 10 3-pointers. "Maybe in another game we'll convert them."
It's uncertain if any of the injured Sparks will be back for this contest, though with this their final game before the break, there might not be reason to rush them back. After Tuesday, L.A., which last lost two straight during its season-high four-game slide from June 15-23, does not play again until Aug. 1.
Ogwumike has averaged 21.7 points and 10 rebounds over the last six games. She had 17 with 15 boards as Los Angeles outlasted Atlanta 76-71 in overtime on the road July 14.
The Dream closed regulation on a 9-2 run and led by three in overtime, but a pair of 3-pointers by Williams put the Sparks ahead for good. Gray had 10 points and recorded nine assists.
Atlanta (5-14) lost by a point at Chicago three days later and followed with road losses to Connecticut and Washington by a combined 57 points. Elizabeth Williams had a team-high 14 points Sunday for the Dream, who shot 36.9 percent during a 93-65 loss to the Mystics.
The Dream played a second straight game without leading scorer Tiffany Hayes (13.5 points per game), who is dealing with a hamstring injury. Hayes, whose layup with one second left forced overtime versus L.A. this month, had 24 points in that contest and could be available Tuesday.