In the first two matchups of the regular season between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, Los Angeles looked impressive against the defending WNBA Champions, sparking conversation whether Minnesota is falling behind the pack in the WNBA.
The Lynx answered back with an impressive win against the team they’ve faced in the last two WNBA Finals on July 5 in the third matchup between the two teams. Minnesota appeared to have figured the early-season struggles out.
On Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Sparks once again dominated the Lynx 79-57 to take the regular season series 3-1.
From the moment the ball went up in the air for the opening tip at STAPLES Center, it was all Los Angeles early and often.
In the first quarter, the Sparks jumped out to a 20-8 lead over the Lynx, led by Candace Parker with 11 points to start the game. Parkers’ matchup, Sylvia Fowles – who has been a key component for Minnesota in defeating Los Angeles – struggled early on, being held scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting from the field in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lynx got back on track to try and cut into the Sparks lead. Fowles emerged for Minnesota, scoring 10 points in the second frame alone. But the Lynx, who held a 21-20 advantage in the second, went into the half trailing 40-29.
The 29 points recorded by Minnesota were a season-low.
Coming out of halftime, the Sparks continued to roll over the Lynx, taking a 59-46 lead.
Midway through the third, Lindsay Whalen tried to ignite Minnesota by getting physical with Odyssey Sims. This resulted in a minor altercation, similar to what she did in the WNBA Finals a year ago and like she did in a meeting between the two teams earlier this season. The Lynx ended up getting the game down to single digits, but the Sparks pulled away once again at the end of the quarter.
In the final quarter, Minnesota didn’t have enough left in the tank against Los Angeles. With the Lynx traveling to Seattle for a game on Friday, Minnesota’s starters sat for a majority of the fourth while Los Angeles came away with the victory.
After struggling in the opening quarter, Fowles finished with 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Minnesota in both categories. Maya Moore finished with eight points after scoring six in the first quarter, while Rebekkah Brunson had seven points and five rebounds and Seimone Augustus tallied six points and three assists. Danielle Robinson provided a nice spark off the bench for Minnesota, finishing with six points, six assists and four rebounds.
The Lynx struggled in multiple categories, including shooting just 41 percent from the field while committing 14 turnovers. Los Angeles shot 49.2 percent from the field.
Parker went off for the Sparks, grabbing 23 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to lead Los Angeles. Chelsea Gray had 18 points and nine assists, while Nneka Ogqumike had 15 points and six rebounds.
With the loss, the Lynx dropped to 15-11 on the season, moving into a three-way tie with Washington and Phoenix for fourth place in the WNBA standings. The Sparks (16-11) jumped ahead of the Lynx for third place in the standings.
Over the past few seasons, WNBA fans have grown accustomed to seeing Los Angeles and Minnesota battle against each other in the postseason and most notably in the WNBA Finals. Most of the time the two teams are about as evenly matched as it can get. But on Thursday night, that certainly wasn’t the case.
Minnesota will quickly return to action at 9 p.m. Friday night at KeyArena in Seattle in an uncommon road back-to-back. The Storm enter the game in first place in the WNBA with a record of 20-7 overall.