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Monday, June 27, 2011
Updated: June 28, 8:42 AM ET
WNBA hurting: Lauren Jackson, Candace Parker out

By Michelle Smith

It was a tough weekend to be a star player in the WNBA.

On Saturday, the Seattle Storm announced that Lauren Jackson, a three-time league MVP, will miss at least three weeks because of a hip injury.

And then came Sunday's potentially devastating news that Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, also an MVP, sustained a knee injury in the team's loss to the New York Liberty.

Parker reportedly fell to the floor clutching her right knee in the third quarter when she came down awkwardly after grabbing a defensive rebound. She will return to L.A. for an MRI, and the Sparks -- not to mention the rest of the league -- will await the news about her condition.

But women's basketball fans know the drill. Watching a player lying on the floor, clutching a knee and shrieking in pain is too often a terrible sign.

Jackson, meanwhile, has a labral tear in her left hip, and while three weeks doesn't sound long, it's a big chunk of time in the WNBA season. Jackson likely won't return until mid-July, but the good news is she should be back on the floor for the Storm in time for the season's stretch run.

Parker may be a different matter, depending on the results of her MRI.

Parker's injury could again cut short one of her WNBA seasons. She played just 10 games last season before having shoulder surgery and has missed a total of 34 games over the past two seasons.

"Right now we don't know, we're going to get her an MRI and we're just hoping for the best. It's tough but we're hoping everything is all right," Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom said after the game in a report posted on the team's website.

"We've played without her before, so we just have to focus on getting to the next game and playing hard and having people step up," Gillom said. "She just said, 'Keep me in your prayers,' and that's' all we can do for her right now and just hope for the best. She's in good spirits, which is a good thing."

Tulsa troubles

The Tulsa Shock remains the league's worst team, and it's worth wondering out loud how much patience is going to be afforded Nolan Richardson, who is 7-36 in two seasons as a WNBA head coach.

Last year, the Shock weren't good, but there was good reason for that: the team had lost key players in the move from Detroit -- including stars Cheryl Ford, Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan. But this year the Shock got the league's No. 2 draft pick in Australian Liz Cambage and another top choice in Stanford product Kayla Pedersen. But Tulsa has picked up where it left off last year with a 1-8 record, and has a run of 14 straight road losses dating to last season.

Richardson blames the offense.

"It is pretty obvious what is wrong with the team," he told the Tulsa World late last week. "We have got to make shots. If you can't make shots, then you aren't going to win.

"There have been a lot of times this season when we can't throw it in the ocean."

How much longer before Tulsa ownership blames Richardson?