Moving on up: Unbeaten Sparks 2nd in AP WNBA power poll


FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2015, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks' Nneka Ogwumike reacts after making a basket during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Washington Mystics, in Los Angeles. What a difference a year makes. The Sparks are 3-0 for the first time since 2003 after rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime. The Sparks didn't win their third game last season until July 21. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)


FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2015, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker (3) shoots against Minnesota Lynx forward Asjha Jones during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, in Minneapolis. What a difference a year makes. The Sparks are 3-0 for the first time since 2003 after rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime. The Sparks didn't win their third game last season until July 21. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)


FILE - In this May 22, 2016, file photo, Seattle Storm's Jewell Loyd, left, fouls Minnesota Lynx's Seimone Augustus late in the second half of a WNBA basketball game, in Seattle. The Los Angeles Sparks moved up four spots in The Associated Press power poll this week in second, behind Minnesota (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)


NEW YORK (AP) — What a difference a year makes.

Los Angeles is 3-0 for the first time since 2003. The Sparks didn’t win their third game last season until July 21.

After rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime, L.A. moved up four spots in The Associated Press power poll . They are second, behind only Minnesota.

Two big reasons for their early success has been the play of Nneka Ogwumike and having Candace Parker in training camp this year. Ogwumike had 25 points and 15 rebounds in the overtime win over the Liberty.

Parker usually has been playing overseas in the winter and would show up to Sparks training camp right before the season began. This year she was with the team from Day 1.

“I definitely feel comfortable out there,” Parker said. “I feel fresh and think we’re playing well so far although it’s early. This is my first go round being at training camp from the start; it’s been great helping set expectations. I was really excited and anxious to get the season going. A lot of the players got in earlier. Culture is huge. This is the best I’ve been part of since I’ve been here.”

She sat out the first half of the season last year to rest her body.

“You can tell she looks fresh out there,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “Having her early has helped us.”

The Sparks continue their four-game road trip in Chicago on Tuesday and Connecticut on Thursday.

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POWER POLL: Los Angeles is playing well, but not well enough to overtake the reigning WNBA champion Lynx. A look at the first regular season WNBA poll.

1. Minnesota (3-0): The defending champions have looked every bit the part early on.

2. Los Angeles (3-0): On the road or at home, the Sparks have won

3. New York (2-1): A hiccup late in the game against the Sparks cost them first 3-0 start since 2007

4. Dallas (3-1): Looked good without Skylar Diggins and now have their star guard back

5. Indiana (2-1): Tamika Catchings’ last season has gotten off to a good start.

6. Atlanta (2-1): The Dream surprised Chicago at home and are off to strong start, jumping five spots in poll.

7. Chicago (1-2): Elena Delle Donne missed the opener with illness the Sky won, she played the next two and they lost — go figure.

8. Phoenix (0-3): Biggest drop in poll, was second in preseason. The talent is there, albeit many players reported late because of overseas commitments.

9. Seattle (1-2): Looked overmatched against the Sparks before beating Phoenix on last-second shot and playing Minnesota tough.

10. Washington (1-3): Just trying to get everyone healthy.

11. Connecticut (1-2): New coach, new attitude, trying to get more wins.

12. San Antonio (0-3): Tough losses to Connecticut and Dallas. Dan Hughes’ final season on bench could be a long one.

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GAME OF THE WEEK: Los Angeles is involved in two family type games this week. Candace Parker has a homecoming Tuesday night in Chicago where she grew up. Nneka Ogwumike will play her sister Chiney for the first time this season when the Sparks visit Connecticut on Thursday. “It’s always fun playing against” Chiney, Nneka said. “It’s easy to say it’s just another game, but it’s not. I’m just happy to see her back out on the court after she missed last year with the injury.”

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck have combined to lose more games already in their first week in the WNBA than they did in four years at UConn. The trio was 151-5 in college. They are 2-7 in the pros.

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FILE – In this Sept. 3, 2015, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike reacts after making a basket during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Washington Mystics, in Los Angeles. What a difference a year makes. The Sparks are 3-0 for the first time since 2003 after rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime. The Sparks didn’t win their third game last season until July 21. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_110511883-91cbeecaccee460997a1fd19db680644.jpgFILE – In this Sept. 3, 2015, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike reacts after making a basket during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Washington Mystics, in Los Angeles. What a difference a year makes. The Sparks are 3-0 for the first time since 2003 after rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime. The Sparks didn’t win their third game last season until July 21. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 9, 2015, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker (3) shoots against Minnesota Lynx forward Asjha Jones during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, in Minneapolis. What a difference a year makes. The Sparks are 3-0 for the first time since 2003 after rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime. The Sparks didn’t win their third game last season until July 21. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_110511883-fc274f4f735f4d3cb9c33055ae4f8d6f.jpgFILE – In this Aug. 9, 2015, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker (3) shoots against Minnesota Lynx forward Asjha Jones during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, in Minneapolis. What a difference a year makes. The Sparks are 3-0 for the first time since 2003 after rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 80 seconds on Saturday against the New York Liberty to win in overtime. The Sparks didn’t win their third game last season until July 21. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)

FILE – In this May 22, 2016, file photo, Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd, left, fouls Minnesota Lynx’s Seimone Augustus late in the second half of a WNBA basketball game, in Seattle. The Los Angeles Sparks moved up four spots in The Associated Press power poll this week in second, behind Minnesota (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_110511883-f4914e7cb47b408186d7b76b6be92c3c.jpgFILE – In this May 22, 2016, file photo, Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd, left, fouls Minnesota Lynx’s Seimone Augustus late in the second half of a WNBA basketball game, in Seattle. The Los Angeles Sparks moved up four spots in The Associated Press power poll this week in second, behind Minnesota (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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