Versatility and “togetherness” spark Lynx streak and defeat of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – The Minnesota Lynx held off a late Sparks rally Sunday night to push their winning streak to a franchise-best nine games. They also snapped a six-game, three-year-old losing streak at the Staples Center with the 84-78 victory.
Lindsay Whalen put up a season-high 24 points for the Lynx, while Seimone Augustus added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Rebekkah Brunson was 18 and seven. Whalen attributed the win to the team’s cohesiveness and depth.
"We’re just taking it one game at a time, and we’re playing together," said Whalen. "On any given night it seems to be a different player stepping up."
The Sparks fell behind at the end of the second quarter, and trailed by 15 with 4:49 left in the contest. They went on a 13-2 run that was punctuated by a long three-point shot by Ticha Penicheiro at 59 seconds left, which cut Minnesota’s lead to 78-74.
Los Angeles had one more chance with 18 seconds to go, trailing 76-81, when Tina Thompson picked the ball off of a bad Maya Moore pass. But Augustus stole the ball back, and Moore was fouled trying to score, sending her to the free throw line. She made both and Minnesota was up by seven, which was out of reach for the Sparks.
DeLisha Milton-Jones led Los Angeles with 18 points, while Thompson added 17 and Penicheiro 16.
The Lynx have the best record in the WNBA, and have a four-game lead in the Western Conference’s top spot. Whalen moved to within seven of 3,000 points for her career. Augustus is also closing in on the same mark.
Whalen said the team’s togetherness began in training camp, and has never stopped.
"A lot of people put the team first, and a lot of people can make plays," she said. "We also play good defense."
Whalen kept finding her way to the basket Sunday, sliding through the defense for layup after layup. She said she had no specific game plan.
"I was just being aggressive, and I wanted to make plays," she said. "I had no idea about the 3,000 points – that was not my focus."
Sparks Coach Joe Bryant said the depth and versatility of Minnesota makes them hard to guard. But he was impressed with his team’s perseverance.
"I was proud of them, because they never gave up," he said. "We know we played hard."
Sparks forward Candace Parker, who tore her right lateral meniscus June 26, warmed up with the team and sat on the bench in her team sweats. Originally, doctors said she was to sit out for six weeks.
Los Angeles, now 7-13, have lost their last four games at home. They continue their long home stand, and will face Tulsa Tuesday and Phoenix Friday. Minnesota continues its road trip and faces Phoenix on Tuesday.