We had to wait five weeks to get the first meeting between the WNBA’s best teams. Now, it’s just three more days until the rematch.
Minnesota won 72-69 over Los Angeles in a game that lived up to the hype Tuesday afternoon at Staples Center, even if the stars didn’t shine as expected.
Who would have predicted these point totals: Minnesota’s Maya Moore (eight) and Sylvia Fowles (seven), and L.A.’s Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike (nine each). Heck, I would have thought there was a greater chance that nobody would actually find Dory in Pixar’s latest epic than that none of those four players would reach double digits in scoring.
Montgomery’s late 3 keeps Lynx unbeaten
In a matchup of undefeated teams, Renee Montgomery’s 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left helped the Lynx past the Sparks, 72-69.
Ready to savor an epic Sparks-Lynx showdown
The players are playing it down, but Tuesday’s Lynx-Sparks game is one of the biggest regular-season meetings in WNBA history. So let’s enjoy this with an exclamation point! Or two!!
Are Sparks favored against the Lynx?
L.A. hosts Minnesota on Tuesday in a battle of unbeatens. Which team’s start is more impressive? Which has the better chance of extending its streak? Do Kevin Pelton’s analytics hold the answer?
However, both coaches — Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve and L.A.’s Brian Agler — talked before the game about how much depth mattered for these squads. That proved to be true. Natasha Howard, Jia Perkins and Renee Montgomery combined for 26 points off the bench for the Lynx. Montgomery hit the winning 3-pointer on a perfectly executed play in which the assist went to Lindsay Whalen.
On the other side, starting guard Kristi Toliver led the Sparks with 20 points, and was a split second and an inch or so away from sending the game to overtime. She hit a shot with her toe touching the 3-point line, plus the ball didn’t leave her hand before the buzzer.
So close … but that’s the kind of narrow margin we should have anticipated for a game like this. Minnesota has won three of the past five WNBA titles and has four players who will be on the U.S. Olympic team in Rio. The Lynx are 13-0 now, and showed just how formidable they are. Even when Moore had her worst game of the season against the toughest opponent, Minnesota still won.
Reeve knew going in that there was going to be very little margin for error against the Sparks. In the end, rebounding — the Lynx dominated the boards 42-29 — and the strength of the reserve corps made the difference for Minnesota.
So what can we expect from Friday’s game at Target Center in Minneapolis? Moore, who has had just one other game this season in which she failed to score in double figures, has a bruised thigh, so we’ll see how she feels by Friday. Knowing Moore, she’ll have a huge game. She has been unbelievably durable throughout her career, college and pro.
Fowles, who led the Lynx in rebounding, might also get more than five shots from the field Friday.
Speaking of that, Ogwumike took just three shots in nearly 29 minutes of play, as the Sparks worked very hard at trying to keep the ball out of her hands. That’s an exceedingly smart move against someone who’s shooting about 70 percent from the field.
But look to Agler to try to figure out how to get Ogwumike more touches, along with getting greater efficiency from Parker, who was 3-of-13 from the floor.
The Lynx have been very, very difficult to beat at home throughout the past five seasons, and it’s the same this year. But at least the Sparks know that they hung with the defending champions right until the end Tuesday.
And we all know that we’ve got another can’t-miss WNBA appointment Friday night.