7:00 PM ET, July 14, 2009
Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
Despite having welcomed back the league's reigning MVP and rookie of the year, the Los Angeles Sparks still haven't found their rhythm.The Connecticut Sun hope it eludes them once again when the Sparks visit Mohegan Sun Arena.Candace Parker and the struggling Sparks look to rebound from their latest loss Tuesday night when they take on a Sun team coming off a disheartening overtime defeat.After missing the club's first eight games while on maternity leave, Parker made her season debut July 5. The first player to win rookie of the year and MVP honors in the same season, Parker hasn't yet recaptured her 2008 form, and neither has Los Angeles (4-7).Parker has averaged 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 36.8 percent (7 for 19) as the Sparks have dropped two of their first three with her in the lineup. The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 18.5 points and a league-high 9.5 boards with a 52.3 field-goal percentage as Los Angeles went 20-14 in 2008.Parker was held to two points and four rebounds while going 1 for 5 from the field in 23-plus minutes of a 75-63 loss at Washington on Saturday night. She also committed six turnovers.With Parker struggling, Los Angeles got outscored 22-7 in the first quarter and trailed the rest of the way."We didn't start well and they were pretty much on fire," center Tina Thompson said.The Sparks will likely have to wait at least one more game to get more help in the frontcourt. Three-time league MVP Lisa Leslie, who's missed the last six games with a knee injury, is expected to be sidelined for this contest as well.The Sun (5-6) will try to take advantage of the Sparks' inconsistency and bounce back from a tough loss. Connecticut led 63-58 in the fourth quarter Saturday, but didn't make a field goal over the final 5:26 of regulation, missing 10 straight shots and eventually falling 79-77 in overtime against Detroit.The Sun have dropped three of four games in July, averaging 65.7 points and shooting 34.8 percent from the field in the three defeats."I don't have an answer for this one," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said Saturday. "Right now, our offense is so scattered."Thibault's club got more bad news Monday, as Tamika Whitmore is expected to miss about three weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her right knee. The forward, who had been averaging 6.6 points in 10 games this season, saw her consecutive games played streak end at 204 when she missed Saturday's loss to the Shock.The Sun and Sparks split two meetings last season, with the home team winning each. Connecticut got 22 points from Lindsay Whalen and 16 off the bench from Sandrine Gruda in an 87-61 rout at Mohegan Sun Arena last July 24. That victory was the fourth for the Sun in their last five home games against Los Angeles, which is 1-6 overall on the road this year.