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WNBA: L.A. Sparks can clinch playoff berth with win over Tulsa at Staples Center

L.A. Sparks star Candace Parker is healthy after fighting a left knee strain last week..
Eric Geller

LOS ANGELES - A win tonight over the Tulsa Shock at Staples Center and the Los Angeles Sparks secure a playoff berth for the third straight season.

Los Angeles (13-15) currently sits as the third seed in the Western Conference with five games left in the regular season. A win tonight over Tulsa (10-19) gives the Sparks a four-and-a-half game lead with four games left.

It seems the Sparks are getting hot at the right time winning four of their last five games going into the final two weeks of the season.

Sunday's dramatic 70-69 win at Staples over the Connecticut Sun looks as if it's provided, ahem, a Spark for Los Angeles.

Trailing by six points with 29 seconds left in the game, the Sparks scored seven straight points thanks to some superior pressure defense culminating when Nneka Ogwumike stole and inbounds pass getting the rock to Candace Wiggins who found Kristi Toliver for an open three-pointer with nine seconds left putting the Sparks ahead for good. When you consider Toliver had been 0-for-6 from the field up until that clinching three went in, she was obviously clutch when she had to be.

"For me it's not about what happened," said Toliver after the win, "It's about what you can make happen in the moment."

Alana Beard had a team-high 18 points while Candace Parker scored nine after missing a couple of games with a left knee strain.

Tulsa can still make the playoffs even with a loss to the Sparks. Coming in they trail San Antonio by three games with five left. The Shock's problem is the finish the season with four of their five games on the road - including tonight's game in Los Angeles - where they're 3-and-10 away from home.

Tip-off from Staples Center is set for 7:40 pm.

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