LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – JULY 2, 2016 – At the midway point of the WNBA season, one of the marquee matchups of the season will transpire on Sunday afternoon as the two hottest teams in the league face off in the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks will face off for the final time during the regular season at the Staples Center at 5 p.m. (ET).
The Sparks are the only team in the league that New York has not beaten at least once this season, and Los Angeles handed the Liberty its only road loss of the year, a 100-77 setback back on June 7.
The first meeting was much closer, an overtime thriller that the Sparks won at Madison Square Garden after erasing a eight-point deficit over the final 1:08 of regulation.
• The Liberty scored a season-high 99 points to pick up a 99-88 wire-to-wire win at Phoenix on Friday night, improving to 8-1 on the road this season. Tina Charles returned from a one-game absence to record her 11th double-double of the season, finishing with 31 points and 10 rebounds, while Sugar Rodgers topped 20 points for the third-straight game, scoring 22 with a pair of 3-pointers. New York shot a season-best 55.6 percent from the field and has now scored at least 90 points in three-straight games for the first time in franchise history.
• Since its last game at Los Angeles, a 100-77 loss on June 7, the Liberty has gone 7-1, with its only loss coming in overtime last Sunday to the Mercury at Madison Square Garden. The setback against the Sparks is the only road loss of the season for New York.
• Sugar Rodgers has topped 20 points in three-consecutive games for the first time in her career. Coming off a career-best 30 points at Minnesota on Wednesday, she followed that up with 22 against the Mercury. During that stretch she is averaging 25.0 ppg, with 14 3-pointers, and average of 4.7 per game, while shooting .467 from 3-point range.
• The Sparks are the only team in the WNBA that the Liberty has failed to defeat at least once so far this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Two of the leading candidates for the 2016 league MVP will face off in Tina Charles and Candace Parker. Both are coming off big-time performances as Charles posted her 11th double-double of the season with 31 points and 10 rebounds in the win at Phoenix on Friday, while Parker tallied 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, as the Sparks took down Atlanta on Thursday.
In the last meeting with Los Angeles, Charles was never really able to get going in what was the only game this season she failed to score in double figures, playing just 22 minutes in the New York setback. Expect both players to try to carry their teams in the last chance to make a statement during the 2016 season.
Liberty guard Sugar Rodgers is on a hot streak as of late, topping 20 points in three-straight games for the first time in her career. Including a career-best 30 points in the win at Minnesota on June 29, Rodgers is averaging 25.0 ppg over the last three contests, having knocked down 14 3-pointers during that span, an average of 4.7 triples per game. Her seven 3-pointers in the win over the Lynx tied the Liberty single-game record, and she is shooting 46.7 percent from long distance over the past three games.
Through 50 games, Sugar Rodgers is on pace to shatter the Liberty’s single-season 3-point field goal record. She currently leads the league with 50 3-pointers, making her on pace to sink 100 shots from long distance this season. That would enable her to easily surpass the current Liberty top mark of 78, set by Shameka Christon in 2009.
Tina Charles continues to lead the WNBA in scoring (22.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg) as she vies to become just the third player in WNBA history to lead the league in scoring and rebounding for an entire season. The only two players to accomplish the feat are Chamique Holdsclaw (2002) and Lauren Jackson (2007). Charles also currently ranks eighth in the league with 4.3 assists per game.