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Lynx, Sparks dominate in semifinal series openers

Nneka Ogwumike takes a tough shot. Photo by Andrew Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images.
Nneka Ogwumike takes a tough shot. Photo by Andrew Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images.

The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks each won resoundingly Wednesday in WNBA first-game semifinal action.

The Lynx closed out the Mercury, 113-95, setting a league record for points scored in a playoff game, while the Sparks routed the Sky, 95-75. Maya Moore lead Minnesota with 31 points, and Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike headed up LA’s efforts with 30 and 27 points, respectively.

After a tightly-contested first quarter, the Lynx distanced themselves in the second by going on a 14-0 run. By the time Mercury center Brittney Griner’s layup ended the barrage, Minnesota had built a 39-27 advantage and would never look back, ending the quarter up 17 points.

“Sometimes within the course of the game, it’s just a matter of when you get your break, when you can create a momentum shift or a run,” Moore said. “Sometimes I’m involved with that as far as scoring and other times it’s [Sylvia Fowles] or other players.”

“We’re just so confident in our preparation. This team is very experienced. I think [we] have a great understanding of what we have. We want to make sure that every time we’re on the court, we’re giving everything that we have.”

Even with the Lynx’s new record, coach Cheryl Reeve sees room for improvement.

“Neither coach was really happy with the defensive effort. No question that we’ll both be hard at work improving that for the second 40 minutes that we play,” Reeve said.

Phoenix was led by Diana Taurasi, with 25 points.

Candace Parker clamps down on rookie Imani Boyette. Photo by Andrew Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images.

In the other semifinal, Los Angeles took the lead at the 7:44 mark of the first period, and never relinquished it. Parker was 11-15 shooting, and Ogwumike, crowned MVP before the match up, was 11-14.

Parker said the Sparks were able to correct early mistakes quickly.

“We came out in the first quarter with turnovers and did not take care of the ball very
well. Once we settled down, we were able to find our offense, putting in some tough
shots,” Parker said. “Defensively, we got stops. That’s when we began to get in the flow of the game. Things we were able to capitalize tonight were playing with aggression, movement, playing the tunnel and taking advantage of mismatches.”

Both best-of-five series continue Friday.

Brian Love contributed to this report.

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