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The Connecticut Sun begin a three-game road trip to the West coast tonight, attempting to protect their 1.5-game lead over Indiana in the Eastern Conference of the WNBA.
And they'll begin in Phoenix (10:30 p.m., ESPN2), a team that won in Connecticut five days ago. To make the challenge more daunting, the Sun will play without center Tina Charles, an MVP candidate to date in the WNBA.
Charles, nursing fatigue and soreness in her groin and hip, joins fellow Olympian Asjha Jones (strained Achilles') on the bench tonight.
"Our motto is that we can go win no matter who's playing," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "We've proven that already. It'll be a lot harder without Tina, but crazier things have happened."
Thibault said that Charles will play in the final two games of the road trip, Friday at Los Angeles and Sunday at Seattle. He said he is "hopeful" Jones will play sometime on the weekend, too.
Phoenix, despite its 7-21 record, never trailed during its victory at Mohegan Sun Arena last Friday.
The Sun return home next week to conclude the regular season. They begin next Wednesday against Indiana, a game that could determine the Eastern Conference regular season champion and top seed in the conference playoffs.
- MIKE DIMAURO