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2011 WNBA Playoff Race: Candace Parker Leads L.A. Sparks Rally To Give Tulsa Shock A Record Breaking 18th Straight Loss

There's room to debate whether Lauren Jackson or Candace Parker will make a bigger impact on their respective teams down the stretch after returning from injury this past week.

But suffice it to say that Parker has been rather impressive in her return from injury this week and the Los Angeles Sparks have needed every bit of what she's given them even just in earning a 2-2 record with their superstar forward in the lineup.

Yesterday evening against the Tulsa Shock, Parker stepped up with 16 points in the second half to help the Sparks come back from as many as 15 points down to win 73-67. For the Shock, the game is a WNBA record 18th consecutive loss, breaking the record set by the Atlanta Dream during their first year of existence in 2008.

With the win, the Sparks improve to 11-15 on the season and move within 2.5 games behind the fourth place San Antonio Silver Stars. Just the fact that the Sparks needed to come from behind to beat a team that now owns the record for consecutive losses could certainly cast a shadow of doubt over their chances to make the type of run needed to make the playoffs. Yet it's also a perfect illustration of why the Sparks have an opportunity to make a move.

While the Silver Stars (13-12) travel to Seattle to face the third place Storm (14-12) in KeyArena on Tuesday where they've lost twice in ugly fashion already, the Sparks will be in Washington to face the Mystics (5-20) who have lost five in a row and then head back to L.A. to face the Shock team they just beat. It's really not difficult to imagine a scenario where the Sparks have closed the gap on the Silver Stars - and Storm - almost entirely by the end of this week without even playing their best basketball.

While the losing streak alone puts the Shock at the forefront of the discussion about the worst team in WNBA history - or, as noted by Oklahoma's NewsOn6, among the worst in professional sports history - the Shock (1-23) are still playing to avoid compounding yesterday's milestone with the dubious distinction of owning the worst record in WNBA history. The Shock will need to find a way to win three of their remaining 11 games to pass the 1999 Washington Mystics, which finished 3-27.