By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- A matchup with the struggling Los Angeles Sparks could be just what the Minnesota Lynx need to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time in 13 months.
Minnesota will try to extend its dominance over Los Angeles in a visit to the Staples Center on Thursday afternoon.
The Lynx (13-2) were off to one of the best starts in WNBA history before a 93-84 loss at San Antonio on Sunday. They gave up 35 first-quarter points en route to their worst defensive effort of the season in terms of points allowed and also had yielded 80 in beating Phoenix on June 27.
"Our defense is just not what is has been. I don't know what it is going to take," Monica Wright told the team's website after matching her season high with 18 points. "We are not going to get down. We are going to get back in the gym."
The loss was also Minnesota's second straight road defeat, but it will try to avoid another by building on a five-game win streak over the Sparks (10-6).
The Lynx recorded the latest of those consecutive victories May 24 at the Target Center by rallying from a nine-point second-half deficit as Seimone Augustus led the way with 25 points.
Minnesota will try to get more help from Augustus to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time since June 24-26, 2011. The Lynx's last three-game road losing streak occurred Aug. 13-20, 2010.
Minnesota prevailed 84-78 in its most recent trip to Los Angeles on Aug. 7, but has not performed well there traditionally, losing 19 of 23 all-time visits.
This time, though, the Lynx will face a club mired in a season-worst three-game losing streak. Los Angeles had its 6-0 start at home ended at the start of that skid, a 91-71 defeat to San Antonio on June 24, then dropped back-to-back road games.
The Sparks fell again to the Silver Stars in their most recent game, 94-80 last Thursday, giving up 57 first-half points.
"We have to do things differently. Whether we have to do something before the game or warm up differently or something like that," said forward Candace Parker, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds and after scoring two points in a 91-75 loss at Tulsa on June 26.
Parker and Kristi Toliver each had 23 points in the loss to Minnesota in May, and rookie Nneka Ogwumike contributed 20 and nine rebounds.
Updated July 4, 2012