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Thursday, August 25, 2011
Silver Stars struggling without Danielle Adams

By Michelle Smith

The season started so well for the San Antonio Silver Stars.

The Stars opened the WNBA schedule with a 7-1 record and raced out to a quick lead in the Western Conference. But since then, the wheels have come off. San Antonio is 6-12 since its 7-1 opening stretch, 2-7 in the month of August, and the Silver Stars are now hanging on to their potential playoff spot for dear life.

San Antonio is 13-13, with a 1½-game lead over Los Angeles for the last postseason berth in the Western Conference. The Sparks are experiencing something of a surge with star Candace Parker back in the lineup, winning three of five. The Stars have eight games left on their schedule, six of them against Western Conference opponents, but only one with the Sparks, on Sept. 6 in Los Angeles.

The Stars have greatly missed the contributions of rookie post Danielle Adams, who made the All-Star team and was averaging 14.3 points a game when she went out with a foot injury July 26. She likely won't be back on the floor until the last few games of the season.

But the Western Conference has been a strange place this year, and the Stars aren't the only ones to be hurt by a key injury. Minnesota -- which hasn't gone to the playoffs since 2004 -- is dominating the race with a healthy lineup. But Phoenix, Seattle and Los Angeles have all had major players down with injuries. Parker is back on the floor for L.A., as is Lauren Jackson in Seattle, but now Phoenix is dealing with the unknown with Diana Taurasi, whose back spasms have kept her out of the past two games.

Mercury coach Corey Gaines has indicated that he wants to rest Taurasi to have her at her best for the postseason, but with just a half-game lead over Seattle for second place in the West -- and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- expect to see Taurasi on the floor sooner rather than later.

In the East

With seven games to go, two games separate Atlanta and Chicago for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, and it looks like the Dream -- last year's runner-up to champion Seattle -- is the team with the momentum. Atlanta has won six out of its past 10 games. Chicago is 4-6 in its last 10, including Tuesday night's 83-80 loss to the Dream.

Games of the weekend

San Antonio and Minnesota play back-to-back on Friday and Sunday, and the Stars have to hope they can get a push against the best team in the West this season.

Atlanta vs. Indiana, Saturday. The Dream also could use a big pick-me-up win against the standard-bearer in their conference.

Los Angeles vs. Seattle, Sunday. Jackson's hip was sore earlier this week. Her playing status is considered day to day at this point.

Breakthrough

Tulsa has lost a league-record 19 in a row, but with the way the Shock are playing, it's not tough to imagine an end to that streak soon. Four of Tulsa's last six losses have come by six points or less.

League gets a Boost

Ironic that the name of the company that has provided the WNBA with the most wide-ranging deal in its history would be called "Boost." Boost Mobile's new agreement with the WNBA, the first-ever league wide "partnership," proves an important point -- this league is financially viable and can be an attractive option for big-money sponsors. And it's also a good sign for new president Laurel Richie, who came in with no basketball background but already has lifted the league's financial spirits.

Milestones

The Stars' Sophia Young reached the 3,000-point mark in her career Tuesday night in Seattle, and before the end of the game, Storm guard Sue Bird hit her own milestone, reaching the 4,000-point mark for her illustrious career.