Lynx beat Sparks in game 3, 91-80, advance to Western conference finals for fifth straight year
The Minnesota Lynx beat the Los Angeles Sparks 91-80 to advance to the Western conference finals for the fifth consecutive season. Led by Maya Moore (20 points plus eight rebounds), five Lynx players were in double figures: Lindsay Whalen (14 points, six rebounds), Seimone Augustus (16 points, five rebounds), Sylvia Fowles (13 points, six rebounds) and Devereaux Peters (12 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks).
Los Angeles’ forward Candace Parker finished the game with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds, marking her 14th 20+ point game in the postseason and 10th career playoff double-double. Forward Nneka Ogwumike, fouled out in the fourth quarter but fnished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. Sparks guard Kristi Tolive was also in double figures with 12 points and Jantel Lavender finished with 11 poitns and five rebounds.
The Lynx dominated on the glass, outrebounding Los Angeles 40-27. The 13+ rebounding margin marked the fifth largest rebounding margin in Lynx playoff history.
Minnesota improved to 18-2 all-time at home in the postseason and 16-1 under head coach Cheryl Reeve. They are 25-12 all-time in the WNBA Playoffs. Both marks are the best for any team in league postseason history. The Lynx will open the Western conference finals on Thursday, September 24 against the Phoenix Mercury at Target Center. Minnesota finished 2-3 in the five-game series with the Mercury this season.
- This year’s postseason meeting will be the fourth time the two clubs have met in the playoffs, also facing off in the 2014 Western Conference Finals (Phoenix won the series, 2-1), the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals (Minnesota won the series, 2-0) and the 2011 Western Conference Finals (Minnesota won the series, 2-0).
Lynx foward Devereaux Peters had a playoff career-high 12 points in 19 minutes of play. Peters averaged just 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game this regular season.
- Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen entered tonight’s game needing four points to overtake Katie Douglas for fifth place on the all-time scoring list. Whalen finished tonight’s contest with 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
- In her playoff career, Los Angeles’ Candace Parker has led the team in scoring on 15 instances and 12 times in rebounding since her arrival to the WNBA in 2008.
Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve
“That was the Lynx team I was hoping for – in that we were just aggressive in everything that we did. Obviously set the tone early, which is what we expect here. Our fans were fantastic starting with the intros with just how loud they were. Our players were excited to play here. Los Angeles is great – they’re a great team. They pose so many challenges with matchups… they can really score in the paint. We said we needed players on the Minnesota line to step up and score and Cruz really helped us, Devereaux Peters really helped us, obviously Whalen and Seimone had their share of tough shots that they each made and Sylvia after Devereaux was out – Sylvia had a chance to get involved and make some really big hustle plays. That’s what it came down to. I thought it us making some hustle plays here and extra possessions.”
On second-chance points…
“We talked about it, we didn’t get it done, but we talked about the areas that we needed to win to win this series and it was the free-throw battle, the turnover battle, the rebounding battle. This was a team that we felt like that was a hole… they have a lot of strengths and we were just trying to find a couple areas that we could stay with them and the offensive rebounding was an area that we just didn’t have the relentlessness that we had tonight in the first two games.”
On responding to the Sparks momentum swing…
“I think you can tell this, Lindsay Whalen provides the leadership that she did in this game… though we lost the game in Los Angeles, some good things happened. One of those I thought was that we got Lindsay Whalen back. She got that swag back and some good things happened for her, she came into this game and she gave us some powerfulness.”
“With our group, the experience that we’ve had, even though it’s been limited, that starting group going to the playoffs… the more they play together, the more they gain confidence in each other. I always go back to the leadership and determination that the core group has – Lindsay, Seimone, Maya and Rebekkah they’re engaged… it gives me confidence.”
Minnesota Lynx Lindsay Whalen
On playing as a team…
“Yeah, I thought we really came together, especially at the hardest points of the game. Pretty much throughout I felt like we were connected the whole time. I mean, there were ups and downs like there is in every game, but yeah, we just had a lot of possessions in the second half where we probably could have taken some hard shots, but we worked it around the perimeter. And then defensively same thing; just that cohesion was huge, we needed it. We played on the edge with every possession tonight, a couple lapses here or there, but that’s what it takes to win those games and we’re able to do it together.”
“Yeah, I thought that out there in LA, the second half, even though we lost, we carried it into this game tonight and we were able to, like you said, that cohesion, we had some of our best offensive plays and just kind of played of each other and flowed together. Like you said, multiple people double figures, scoring was really spread out, and thought we were just sharing the ball and making the kicks. We’re more aggressive when we do that and good things happen for us when we do that.”
Minnesota Lynx Seimone Augustus
On Anna Cruz and Devereaux Peters…
“Very big, each team I think focuses on getting those bench points or the hustle plays, or whatever, and I think Anna came in and she played great defense, just gave us that energy on that end of the floor. She hit some key shots in crucial situations and Devereaux just came in and was fierce. She had an assignment, she had to guard Candace tonight, which is a big assignment and she did the best that she could with making every shot tough for her, and then on an offensive end, she’s not really known as a scorer on this team, but we put her in positions to be successful on the shots tonight.”
On Sylvia Fowles…
“Yeah, I mean she struggled in the first half and she struggled a little bit in the second half, you know in the third quarter and a little bit early on in the fourth, and she just stuck with it. And that’s part of our leadership here, we kept encouraging her, at some point it’s going to be your time and when you get in, do what you do, get easy baskets. And it came down to that, she was able to get in there and get her hands on the ball a couple times and get to the free throw line and that really helped us expand the lead and pull out this victory.”
Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler
“First of all I’d just like to congratulate Minnesota for one, a very competitive series and just congratulate them on how they’ve sort of weathered their own storms this year and just to congratulate them on advancing to the Western Conference. I admire the job that they do here and the people on their team. I really enjoy coaching against them because they bring the best out in you – they challenge you.”
On Dabovic’s play…
“I’ve been asked that a lot and I guess you’re probably wondering ‘where’d she come from?’ If you asked players from our team or form the Lynx, or from people the league, the really good players know her because they’ve played against her over in Europe or on the national team. Ana is somebody that just has great instincts for the game. Her older sister is a point guard on their national team, her Dad’s a basketball coach, she had a brother that played, and her Mom played. She had an older sister that’s retired now that plays, so it’s just a basketball family. If you watch her play you can sort of understand. She understands the game, she knows show to play. She made us a better basketball team once she got here and got incorporated. She wasn’t with us early because they were in the Eurobasket and won the championship.”
On the Lynx defense…
“They put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t deal with it very well. At halftime, we’re sitting there, we talk a lot with our team about not letting our opponents score easy. What I mean by that is not giving up second shots, not letting them into the free-throw line, not giving up transition baskets and of course, not turning the ball over where they can score off your turnovers. At halftime, 31 of the 43 points were in those categories and so we felt like if we could sharpen up in some areas, we can work our way back in the game and we did that. But the first half, they had 14 points off second shots, they had 12 points off our turnovers, and 5 from the free-throw line. We just hurt ourselves. We didn’t deal with the pressure very well.”
Los Angeles Sparks Candace Parker
On playing Minnesota…
“You know it’s tough, they came out the gate in the first half and it was tough pressure, but we handled it in the second half. I mean it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen. I think we were staggering in the first half and it shot us in the foot, but we were able to bounce back and make it a game.”
On turnovers in the first half…
“A lot of it was unforced turnovers and that’s how it’s been, that’s how it was in the first game.”
LosAngeles Sparks Jantel Lavender
On the Sparks’ momentum swing in the fourth…
Lavender: “Yeah, in situations like that we just have to execute and get the plays that we need at that time. Like she said, we shot ourselves in the foot early so that kind of stuck with us the entire game.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Sparks 38, Lynx 30
Second Chance Points: Sparks 4, Lynx 18
Fastbreak Points: Sparks 7, Lynx 7
Biggest Lead: Sparks 0, Lynx 14
Lead Changes: 0
Times Tied: 0