8:00 PM ET, July 29, 2009
Chicago's Sylvia Fowles had one of the more memorable moments of last weekend's All-Star game, although she couldn't secure a victory for the Eastern Conference.After struggling with a knee injury during the first half of the season, Fowles looks to help the Sky get the second half off to a good start Wednesday when they host the Los Angeles Sparks.Fowles missed five games for Chicago (8-10) in July because of a sore right knee, but she played in the Sky's final three games before the All-Star break and then led the East in scoring with 18 points, highlighted by a dunk with 15 seconds remaining in the 130-118 loss to the West on Saturday. It was the third dunk in WNBA All-Star game history."Sue (Bird) looked at me with these big eyes like, 'Are you ready to do it? Are you ready to do it?' and I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah!'" said the 6-foot-6 Sky star, who missed on her first attempt in the final minute. "I was excited about it that I had a chance to do it in front of the fans and let them see that I can actually dunk."Fowles was joined at the All-Star game by Chicago teammates Jia Perkins, who had 16 points, and Candice Dupree, who added 12.All three players are hoping for a better start to the second half of the season for Chicago, which went into the break suffering back-to-back losses against New York and Washington to drop into a tie for fourth place in the East. Chicago, which is 2-7 in July, lost 75-64 to Washington last Thursday.Fowles, who is averaging 11.6 points and 8.5 rebounds, was held to seven and seven, respectively, in that game.Los Angeles (5-9), meanwhile, is trying to win back-to-back games for the first time after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 76-70 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday. Tina Thompson scored a season-high 30 points, including 10 during a 14-6 run to put away the game late in the fourth quarter. The victory improved the Sparks to 2-8 on the road and 2/3 on this seven-game road trip.Thompson, who came in averaging 13.7 points, has scored 52 in the last two games.The Sparks held Minnesota to 38.2 percent shooting and allowed their fewest points in four games. Opponents averaged 85.0 points against Los Angeles in the previous three games of this road trip. For the season, the Sparks are giving up 78.4 points on the road compared to 66.0 points in four home games."People have to understand we've yet to see our full team in effect," coach Michael Cooper said. "We've got Candace (Parker) coming back, Lisa (Leslie) has yet to come back, and hopefully that will happen very soon. So whatever is to be said and done is going to have to come through L.A."Cooper has good reason to feel optimistic about his team's chances. The Sparks won both meetings with the Sky last season, are 3-0 all-time in Chicago and have won five of the six games between the teams.Parker, who grew up outside of Chicago, scored 12 points and had seven rebounds in her first game there as a pro player before fouling out in an overtime win.