Fever 70

(18-8, 7-6 away)

Sparks 75

(10-14, 7-5 home)

    10:30 PM ET, August 18, 2011

    Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    IND 21 9 24 1670
    LA 16 15 24 2075

    Top Performers

    Indiana: T. Smith 14 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Los Angeles: E. Hoffman 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Fever-Sparks Preview


    Candace Parker lost her cool in her first game back since missing nearly two months with a knee injury.

    She'll likely need to stay more composed if the Los Angeles Sparks hope to climb their way back into the Western Conference playoff race.

    The Sparks conclude a six-game homestand Thursday night against the East-leading Indiana Fever, who look for a fourth straight win.

    Parker had 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench Tuesday in her first action since tearing the lateral meniscus in her right knee June 26, but she was ejected with three-tenths of a second left during an 84-79 loss to Atlanta. The 2008 WNBA MVP was thrown out for arguing a non-call during a scramble for a loose ball on the Sparks' final possession.

    "I shouldn't have acted like that. I apologized to my team. I apologize to the fans," she said. "It was the heat of the moment. I thought a call should have gone a certain way. It didn't, and I lost control."

    Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 19 to move into 10th place on the WNBA all-time scoring list with 4,735 points, but her efforts weren't enough to prevent the Sparks (9-14) from suffering their eighth loss in 11 games. Los Angeles is three games behind Seattle for the fourth and final playoff spot.

    The Sparks could be hard-pressed to continue their quest for a postseason berth against surging Indiana (18-7). The Fever, tied for first in the league with an average of 71.9 points allowed, have held opponents to 66.4 per game during an 8-1 run.

    Indiana won 65-63 in San Antonio on Tuesday behind a 26-point effort from Tamika Catchings. The nine-time All-Star, who ranks 12th in the league with 15.4 points per game, has averaged 26.3 on 57.5 percent shooting during the three-game winning streak.

    "I think what she's done is she's attacking the basket more, she's pacing herself a little more," coach Lin Dunn said. "I think she has a tremendous will to win."

    While Catchings scored a season-low four points on 1-of-7 shooting against the Sparks on July 31, the Fever recorded their most lopsided victory of the season, 98-63.

    "Defensively, they took us out of everything," Sparks coach Joe Bryant said after that loss. "We couldn't make shots. They went down and scored."

    Parker missed last month's meeting, and she's averaging 26.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in her last three games versus Indiana. Her individual success, however, hasn't translated into many wins -- Los Angeles has dropped three straight and four of five to the Fever.

    Indiana, which holds a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Connecticut in the East, owns the conference's best road record at 7-5. The Fever sit one-half game behind Minnesota for the league's top spot.