With 13 seconds left, the Los Angeles Sparks had the ball down two points with the chance to win the game they had spent most of trailing by double digits against the Minnesota Lynx in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. But Alana Beard couldn’t find anywhere to inbound the ball and was whistled for a five-second call.
That should have been the game. It wasn’t.
The Lynx’s next inbounds had a similarly disastrous outcome as the ball struck Seimone Augustus as she tripped, losing the ball out of bounds.
But even with another late-game attempt handed to them, the Sparks couldn’t find a way to score as Chelsea Gray bobbled the ball, and had it stripped by Maya Moore.
Minnesota took the game, 70-68, knotting the series at a game apiece.
MVP Sylvia Fowles was a force on the boards for Minnesota, finishing with a WNBA-record 17 to go along with 13 points, and despite some second-half foul trouble, Maya Moore scored 13.
The Lynx’s defense held two L.A. MVPs to NO made shots in the first half. That was too much for the Sparks to overcome.
Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike are combined 0 of 11 from field in first half. Nneka is 3 of 4 from foul line.— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) September 27, 2017
The real difference-maker for Minnesota was the efforts of Rebekkah Brunson guarding Candace Parker, only allowing the Sparks’ forward 17 points (much of which came late in the game). In Game 1, the Lynx had to switch Maya Moore onto Parker, as L.A.’s superstar was putting on a scoring clinic, outrunning Brunson down the floor.
Parker rolled her ankle for the second time in warmups before a playoff game, and that seemed to limit her mobility in the early going. But even as she found her step, Brunson allowed her few perimeter touches. The Sparks’ entire offense was a mess without their floor general in her usual flow.
That also hurt last year’s MVP, Nneka Ogwumike, who scored just 11 points on a brutal 3-of-13 shooting with 6’6 Fowles all over her. That never happens. Ogwumike nearly set a league record for efficiency a season ago, but that goes to show the weight Parker carries on a nightly basis.
Lindsay Whalen outplayed Chelsea Gray for most of this game.
Two days after Gray owned the Lynx with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting, which included the game-winner, she scored just 15 points. She shot efficiently at 5-of-10 from the floor, but couldn’t get her shot up as frequently as she had. L.A.’s offense never found a flow in the halfcourt, and Gray wasn’t able to get the same looks she had on Sunday.
On the other end, Whalen, most known for her playmaking abilities, was looking for her shot against Gray, and found it. She scored 14 points, stepping back for separation for a number of mid-range buckets.
At the beginning of the month, Whalen came back from surgery on the hand she had broken a month prior, and nobody knew exactly how she’d return.
Guess she’s fine.