Led by Whalen, Lynx recover to douse Sparks 70-68 in Finals game two and even the series
The Minnesota Lynx recovered from a game one loss in the WNBA Finals to take down the Los Angeles Sparks 70-68 in a thrilling game two that came down to a key defensive stop in the final seconds at Williams Arena in front of 11,434 fans. Like they did before game one, the Sparks went to the locker room during the performance of the national anthem.
Minnesota started the game in dominating fashion, in stark contrast to how they came out in game one when they only scored 11 points in the first period. The tables were turned Tuesday evening as the Lynx outscored the Sparks 28-10 in the first ten minutes shooting 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from the floor. Lindsay Whalen was key for the Lynx in the first quarter scoring five of the team’s first seven points on the way to finishing with seven points in the quarter.
“Whalen took a lot personally from game one,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, “and she realized she wasn’t aggressive enough, and so she came out and really established herself.”
Sparks head coach Brian Agler attributed much of Lynx’s success to how they started the game.
“They really came out and set the tone of the game early. I don’t think we responded quite as well as we would have liked, but I think they had a lot to do with that,” said Agler. “I do like the way we battled back, put ourselves in position to tie or win the game, and it’s like anything else, you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities.”
The Lynx went into halftime with a 45-26 advantage. The Sparks outscored the Lynx after the break with a 24-15 scoring advantage to make the game a more competitive affair heading into the last period. Only ten points separated the two teams at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Sparks continued to chip away at the deficit and managed to get within three points in the last two minutes of the game. With 33.2 seconds left, Los Angeles was only down by two after free throws from Candace Parker. The Sparks had possession of the ball in the last several seconds but a steal by Rebbekah Brunson dashed their hopes of a last second victory.
“We just had to continue to fight, continue to stay engaged and locked into each other and what was happening on the floor,” said Maya Moore about the team’s success in the last seconds. “All we can do is go out and try to anticipate what’s going to happen and shut it down.”
All of Minnesota’s starters were in double figures. Whalen finished with a 2017 playoff-high and team-high 14 points. Moore and Sylvia Fowles scored 13 points each. Fowles grabbed a playoff-career-high and WNBA Finals record 17 rebounds (previous: 16 by Taj McWilliams Franklin, Connecticut vs. Sacramento on Sept. 15, 2005). Brunson added 12 points and Seimone Augustus contributed 11 points.
Parker paced the Sparks with 17 points plus five rebounds and six assists. Chelsea Gray scored 15 points. Nneka Ogwumike had a double-double of 11 points plus 13 rebounds. Odyssey Sims added 10 points.
The Lynx halted the Sparks winning streak at 11 straight wins. It was the first lost for the Sparks since August 13 against the New York Liberty. The series is tied (1-1). Game three is Friday in Los Angeles.
- Brunson entered the game ranked No. 1 in Finals total rebounds and increased that total to 187.
- Whalen entered as the Finals all-time leader in assists with 109 and upped her total to 112.
- Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike held without a field goal in the first half.
- Essence Carson finished the night leading both benches scoring 9 points.