Playoffs round 1, day 3: two sweeps complete

The Sparks staved off a Silver Stars fourth quarter comeback to win, 101-94. Candace Parker lead Los Angeles in their sweep of San Antonio with 32 points and nine rebounds. The Sparks advance to the Western Conference finals.

The Sun came from behind to beat the Liberty 75-62, and swept their series to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Tina Charles lead Connecticut with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

In tomorrow’s action, the Fever play Atlanta at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern, and the Lynx go at the Storm at 6 p.m. Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern. Unlike today, the first game will be on ESPN2 and the second, on ESPN.

Playoff schedule and results.

Sparks at Silver Stars post-game quotes:

Sparks coach Carol Ross:

(General thoughts on the game…)

“It was clearly a playoff game and we’re happy to close this out and to go against a very good, well-coached, tough team like San Antonio. It’s a shame this game came so early in the playoffs because both of the games were played at a high level. Both teams responded to big runs. We were just fortunate to make one that finished the games with wins both times.”

(On San Antonio forcing turnovers in the fourth quarter…)

“I think you have to give San Antonio a lot of credit. They forced us into some bad plays. Some of them were set but I thought San Antonio’s intensity; they turned us over, they knocked down some three point shots. They’ve been best in the league all season long in shooting around the arc. We just didn’t respond well when they went to it, but to their credit, they still had to put them in and they did. It was just a heck of a fourth quarter and we feel lucky that we played well enough in the first three that we had enough cushion to win.”

(On finishing the game…)

“We had no intention of going back to L.A. to play another game. Our focus was to finish it. Certainly, against a team as tough as San Antonio that wasn’t going to be an easy challenge, but we played very well at a very high level for most of the game. (In the fourth quarter) we didn’t play as well as we had been and they amped up their playmaking abilities. Really, give them a lot of credit for coming out and went small-ball. They have great shooters in four spots behind the arc. Of course you have Sophia Young who took importance out so it was a good strategy for the game with this team and we didn’t respond well to it.”

Candace Parker:

(When asked how does feel to be in the Conference Finals for this team…)
“It’s the first time for this team. It’s very special and I’m excited. This is just a stepping stone and we’re not satisfied. It’s a great step. We beat a great team on their home floor. I’m proud of our group.”

(When asked this time last year you were at home watching the playoffs, how does it feel to be where you are now…)

“I was at home watching the playoffs, this whole team was. But the silver lining was that we got the first pick in the draft. I’m just excited to be playing in October when a championship is on the line.”

(When asked if she likes to play point guard and if she’s confident in her point guard skills…)

“No, I’m confident in my point guard right sitting to the right of me (Kristi Toliver). I love her to death. That’s what so great about us, we run and it doesn’t matter who leads the break as long as we finish it. Today some of the time I was running the break and I was finding people. Then I would be receiving it the other times. That’s what so great about our team, our philosophy is rebound and get it out as quick as we can and beat the other team up the floor.”

Kristi Toliver:

(When asked about the rally by the Silver Stars in the second half…)

“At some point San Antonio was going to make their run. They’re too good of a team not to. Their season was on the line and they had to. They responded to adversity. We did the same thing right back. We didn’t fold or get to down on ourselves. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we still had the lead. Even though we were struggling and they were making three’s, transition buckets and getting to the free-throw line. We had to stay focus and stay together and just face it. I think it was a good challenge for us especially going forward in the conference finals. It’s better to have a battle then a blow out. We’ll continue to fight.”

(When asked how the Sparks got the lead…)

“We got out and ran. We got stops and we tried to win the battle on the boards and get out and run. We played inside out. We got our bigs going and that got our littles going. We wanted to penetrate and get to the rim, like in game 1. We didn’t want to settle for jump shots. We wanted to be aggressive and play good defense. That’s what happens.”

Note: It was cause for big pause to see a teary-eyed Tully Bevilaqua wave to the crowd and then leave the court for the last time after today’s game. Thanks, Tully, for all you’ve given to the game, and to the fans. We’ll miss you.

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