Liberty-Sparks Preview

Chelsea Gray helped the Los Angeles Sparks beat the New York Liberty earlier this month on the road.

Off to a strong start, Gray looks to again help the Sparks take down a visiting Liberty squad that will try to avoid an 11th consecutive road defeat Saturday night.

Gray scored a career-high 29 points as Los Angeles rallied from five down with 4:42 left in the game to score 10 consecutive points en route to a 78-73 road win over New York (2-5) on June 4. That contest began a four-game road stretch for the Sparks (4-2), who finished that span 3-1 following Friday's 85-68 win at Phoenix.

Gray again came up big for Los Angeles, scoring 14 of her team-high 21 points in the first quarter as Los Angeles shot 51.5 percent Friday. Averaging a career-high 16.5 points in her fifth season, Gray went 4 of 6 from 3-point range against the Mercury, and remains the Sparks' most consistent performer on the young season with stars Candace Parker (hamstring) and Alana Beard (leg) injured.

"She's smart, she's competitive, she can shoot, defend and she's learning how to lead more and more as our team evolves," first-year Sparks coach Derek Fisher told the WNBA's official website. "She is a person that we want and need to follow.

"Without Candace on the floor, and playing in a new system, (Gray) makes plays for herself and for other people, and that's a huge bonus for us."

Gray will likely again be a challenge for the Liberty, whose bid for a third consecutive victory ended Friday night with a rough 100-65 loss at Las Vegas. Kia Nurse had 12 points to lead New York, which shot 32.4 percent while the Aces hit for 54.1 from the floor.

After ending a 17-game overall losing streak last weekend, the Liberty aim to snap a 10-game road slide that dates to a 79-76 win at Connecticut on July 11.

Tina Charles (19.1 ppg) scored 21 against the Sparks to become the Liberty's all-time leading scorer, and also pulled down 14 rebounds in the first meeting. Charles, however, was held to six points against the Aces and has totaled 18 in the last two games.

Los Angeles has won four in a row and nine of 10 over the Liberty. That meeting earlier this month reportedly was the first time Fisher was back in the New York City area since being fired by the Knicks in 2016 after less than two seasons.
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