Lynx edge Sparks, 70-68, to even Finals series

Odyssey Sims tries to squeeze past Sylvia Fowles, in pursuit of Lindsay Whalen, in the first half of Game 2. Photo by Jim Mone/AP.
Odyssey Sims tries to squeeze past Sylvia Fowles, in pursuit of Lindsay Whalen, in the first half of Game 2. Photo by Jim Mone/AP.

Minneapolis – The Minnesota Lynx struck back Tuesday, edging the Los Angeles Sparks in the closing seconds of WNBA Finals Game 2, 70-68.

Sylvia Fowles led all five Minnesota starters in double figures with 13 points and a Finals-record 17 rebounds to even the series at one game a piece.

It was a matchup that was eerily similar to Game 1, but this time it was the Lynx who vaulted to a big lead in the first quarter, which they stretched to a 45-26 margin by halftime. But the Sparks fought their way back into the game in the third quarter and clamped down on defense, limiting Minnesota to 15 points. Candace Parker’s two free throws with 33 seconds to go cut the deficit to two points.

Maya Moore missed a jump shot, which gave the ball back to Los Angeles, but Alana Beard couldn’t inbound the ball in time. The Lynx then had an inbound miscue, which turned the ball back over. Seimone Augustus sent the ball out of bounds almost immediately, and on the Sparks’ final possession, Odyssey Sims tripped and Rebekkah Brunson stole the ball.

Candace Parker led Los Angeles with 17 points, all scored in the second half, and Chelsea Gray scored 15.

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve saw improvement in her team’s performance from Game 1 to Game 2.

“We made our own breaks, and that’s what it’s about. You have to make your own breaks,” she said. “We were far harder to play against in those closing possessions than what we were in Game 1, far harder, and we made catches more difficult, we were up on them, we were active.”

Parker said that the game could have gone either way.

“I mean, I know that these two games have been – we’ve both gotten out to huge leads, and the other team has just fought back,” she said. “What that says to me is, yeah, no lead is safe, and you’re never out of the game. In the first half I feel like if we could take a couple of those possessions back and we could be told at the end of the game it’ll be a two-point game, I know I would I do a lot of things differently.”

Game 3 will be Friday in Los Angeles, and players and coaches from both teams expect another fiery showdown.

“Everybody on the court is such a threat on both teams, and you’ve got two great coaches, a lot of great players just countering each other and adjustments are being made that – I mean, this is what it’s all about, really. This is what it’s all about,” Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen said. “This is why we’re all still here playing is to play in these moments and these games.”