Sparks dominate Lynx to take a 2-1 Finals series lead

Forward Maya Moore gets trapped by Alana Beard and Nneka Ogwumike. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.
Forward Maya Moore gets trapped by Alana Beard and Nneka Ogwumike. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Los Angeles, Calif. – The Los Angeles Sparks showcased domination from buzzer to buzzer Friday to rout the Minnesota Lynx, 92-75, and go 2-1 in the WNBA Finals series.

Candace Parker pushed the pace for Los Angeles with 24 points, while reigning league MVP Nneka Ogwumike had 21 and Essence Carson and Alana Beard added 16 and 15 points, respectively.

The Sparks, who won the first game Sunday, lost by 19 points in Game 2, and sought to make a big impression in their first home appearance of the five-game series. They achieved that goal, and more.

Using a four-pronged attack by the game’s top scorers, Los Angeles blazed out to a 13-2 lead by the 5:55 mark, and two minutes later were up 21-6. They out-shot and out-rebounded Minnesota to take a 32-17 lead at the end of one.

Candace Parker goes up for two points. Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images.
Candace Parker goes up for two points. Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images.

Midway through the second quarter, Los Angeles had mounted a 20-point lead when Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen buckets ignited the visitors on a run of their own. By halftime they had cut the lead to eight points, 48-40.

The Sparks held their ground in the third quarter, and in the fourth continually held off Lynx attempts at a comeback.

Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson lead Minnesota with 14 points a piece. Moore, with anemic scoring in Game 1, had only 9 points in the third game.

Los Angeles coach Brian Agler credited his team’s ability to respond after halftime.

“Minnesota worked hard to get back in, and they were within striking distance,” Agler said. “They really finished off the first half very well, and I felt like second half we came out, we addressed a few things at halftime, and we came out and played very consistently
I would say. Hit some shots, got some stops.”

Parker, who was held to six points in the second game, was honest about her impetus to score big in Game 3.

Candace Parker and Essence Carson  celebrate a three-pointer after a timeout Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.
Candace Parker and Essence Carson celebrate a three-pointer after a timeout Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

“That was a product of me being nonexistent in every game we played Minnesota this
year,” Parker said. “I went back and watched film, and my presence wasn’t there. We had a game plan of just going to the basket and trying to be aggressive. I mean, I myself, my teammates played well in Game 1 and Game 2, and we were aggressive defensively, but I was just there.”

“We’ve worked too hard to get to this point to just be there. I appreciate my coaches and my teammates challenging me, and now we’re sitting here and going to Game 4.”

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, visibly upset by the game result, was admittedly surprised at her team’s failure to respond to the Sparks’ 1-2 punch.

“I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist,” Reeve said, when asked to explain the performance. “As I expressed to them before the game, what I thought the game was going to be, boy, was I wrong. I didn’t see it coming. I’ll be honest with you.”

“Give all the credit to LA because I don’t know — at any point in time did we think it was going to be different than what they did in terms of their aggression, and their persistence. We talked a lot about that; they’re going to be persistent in what they were trying to get. They won the persistency battle. We didn’t rise to the occasion. You know, we were soft. We were feeble, and didn’t rise to the occasion. Did I see that coming? No, absolutely not. It was disappointing to say the least.”

Minnesota has won three WNBA Championships since 2011, while the Sparks last saw a title in 2002, and haven’t been to the Finals since 2003. Sunday’s Game 4 is a chance for the franchise to win a title on their home floor, at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Sparks celebrate their Game 4 win over the Minnesota Lynx. Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images.
The Los Angeles Sparks celebrate their Game 4 win over the Minnesota Lynx. Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images.

Reeve said Friday that the winner of the evenly-matched series will come down to who wants it the most. Carson said that although Los Angeles is focusing on game preparation, their desire for the trophy burns.

“We want it very badly,” Carson said. “I think both teams want it very badly. But at the same time, we just have to worry about taking care of ourselves. We definitely are prepared going into each and every game, but it’s about transferring that preparation into
the game.”

“When it’s game time, when the lights come on, when it’s show time, about making things happen, making plays, making defensive stops, putting it all together for an entire 40 minutes, and if it happens to go to overtime, 45. But we definitely do want it very
badly.”

Game 4 is at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time on ESPN.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY