Despite an inspired start and balanced scoring, the Minnesota Lynx are fortunate to still be in contention for the WNBA championship.
Through their first four games of the WNBA playoffs, the Minnesota Lynx failed to play to their potential early in each game. Tuesday night at Williams Arena was the exception and they needed it. Heeding the advice of coach Cheryl Reeve, the Lynx took it to the Los Angeles Sparks from the outset with emotion, intensity and hustle.
Following game one, Reeve was unhappy with her team’s performance to put it mildly. She subsequently laid into her team for their lackluster effort. The Lynx responded with an impressive first quarter advantage of 28 – 10 and a subsequent 19 point halftime lead.
The second half was a different story. The Lynx continued to push the pace and rebound well. However, the Los Angeles Sparks raised their level of play and almost stole game two in the closing moments.
With 13.4 seconds left in the fourth period and down two, the Sparks had possession. Remarkably and credit to the Lynx coverage as well, the Sparks failed to inbound the ball and were whistled for a five second count.
With a clear opportunity to ice the game, Lindsay Whalen passed the ball into Seimone Augustus, but she tripped and the ball rolled out of bounds off her.
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One last desperate attempt to tie the game went awry for the Sparks as Chelsea Gray had the ball stolen. The Lynx ran out the clock and the covered in blue raucous crowd celebrated a 70-68 victory. An ugly end to the game but the Lynx will look forward, not back.
This game should have come as no surprise. In game one, the Sparks won by just a point with a last second shot. Last year’s finale went to the last few seconds in game five. This year will likely be no different. These teams are evenly matched and know each other so well.
The five Lynx starters were all in double figures. Center Sylvia Fowles was dominant in the paint with a WNBA playoff record 17 rebounds.
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Game three is in Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Friday night. Tip off is at 8 PM Central. Game four is Sunday night with an 7 PM Central tip. If a game five is needed, it will be back in Minnesota on Wednesday, October 4th.