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Western War: Sparks, Wings primed for 2nd matchup

The Los Angeles Sparks are hot off a two-game win streak in which they defeated Western Conference rival Minnesota to move to the top of the WNBA. But with the two team’s last matchup haunting them, the Dallas Wings head to Los Angeles seeking to add fire to their turnaround season.

Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

After crushing Dallas in their first meeting on the road, the Los Angeles Sparks look to continue their historical season and take the series tonight in their second matchup with the Wings—this time on their turf.

Los Angeles stunned Dallas in the June 11 contest in Arlington, winning 97-73 on the road en route to the best start in franchise history, a perfect 11-0. Now, hot off a two-game win streak, the Sparks sit atop the WNBA with a 13-1 record and look to continue strong in a 6-game home stretch.

Riding on the heels of big-time performers like Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles also has big-time depth in players like Kristi Toliver and Chelsea Gray among others, who provide a constant offensive attack.

"I think (depth is) a good problem to have," Parker said during a Monday conference call. "I think it poses a lot of problems from a defensive standpoint to other teams because on any given night; you look at Nneka, myself... who do you put your best front-court defender on? You have all different weapons.

"At this point, we don't care who does it as long as it gets done."

For Dallas, the key on defense will be stopping, or at least attempting to slow down, the play of Ogwumike—especially since the last time she faced the Wings, Ogwumike set a WNBA record for most field goal attempts without a miss, going 12-12.

She averages 17.9 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, best on the team in both categories.

"Nneka, she brings it on both ends of the floor," Parker said. "She's rebounding, she's shooting an unbelievable percentage. She's a pleasure playing with. It's fun for me to sit back and play alongside her."

Both teams have since proven they perform offensively, with the Sparks ranked third in the WNBA in best scoring teams (85.6) and the Wings ranked second (86.8).

Dallas (7-8) has won their last four of five games, and are fresh off a heartbreaker in Indiana. In the previous five games, though, the Wings lead the league in points per game with 97.8 and have augmented their shooting to 45 percent from the field.

"I think what we're trying to do is bring as much energy as possible," said Glory Johnson in Monday's conference call. "Whether coming off the bench or coming off my seven-game suspension, we're all just trying to contribute as much as possible."

Much of Dallas' season turnaround can be attributed to the return of point guard Skylar Diggins, who suffered a torn ACL in the middle of last season. Diggins is averaging 16.6 points in her last five games, nurturing the notion that her comeback is complete.

"Skylar needed to come back when she was ready," Johnson said. "We talked about it a little bit, and she wanted to make sure when she was coming back, she was able to play at her full potential. She's attacking the basket, (and) she's not afraid to fall on her knee. She's fully ready, and she's bringing a lot of energy."

Johnson, herself, is averaging 11.8 points per game and 7.9 rebounds in the eight games since her return from serving a seven-game suspension at the beginning of the season.

Los Angeles is shooting a WNBA-high 48.8 percent from the field, while Dallas averages out at 40.9 percent (on the season).

Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. EST at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.​