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The short-handed Sparks stunned the Lynx in season opener

Chelsea Gray’s game-winning buzzer beater lifted L.A. to a huge upset win over Minnesota.

WNBA: Finals-Los Angeles Sparks at Minnesota Lynx Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It was never supposed to be this close. The Sparks were without Candace Parker and two other key players. This was supposed Minnesota’s game to take. And not just take: the Lynx were supposed to pound the Sparks to open their season.

It didn’t happen. Minnesota never took full control of the game. Instead the Sparks somehow jumped to a lead they held for a good portion of the second half. The Lynx attempted, and were nearly successful in executing a late-game comeback, but then Chelsea Gray sealed the deal with a buzzer-beating layup to give LA a one-point win.

Here’s how it happened:

End of 1st quarter: Lynx 18, Sparks 18

Hey, Maya... You know my Jets need some DB help, right?

Is that Dwyane Wade? No, it’s just Chelsea Gray weaving through the lane.

HALFTIME: Lynx 38 Sparks 32

The Sparks are in it. They’re without one of the best players in all of basketball and are only down six points. This is a good place to be if your’e L.A. Not if you’re Minnesota.

The Lynx turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and are clinging onto a six-point lead against a team without so many key players. Look for Minnesota to tighten up in the second half and play some championship basketball to pull away.

End of 3rd quarter: Sparks 57, Lynx 49

1:57 — Well, this is pretty sad if you’re Minnesota.

6:20 — HOW!? L.A. has rallied from down six at the half to go on a 14-0 run and take a six-point lead of their own. What is going on??

Ball game: Sparks 77, Lynx 76

0.0 — CHELSEA GRAY IS JAMES HARDEN, DON’T TELL ME OTHERWISE! Gray hits a buzzer-beating game-winner on a drive down the middle of the lane. She’s a monster.

5.8 — Lindsay Whalen get the ball, drives baseline and attacks the basket, drawing a foul. She just made both free throws, but that’s still enough time to get a play going. Timeout, Sparks.

8.2 seconds — The Sparks couldn’t get a basket to drop after running the clock, and Fowles grabbed a rebound and called a timeout. This it it. The game’s on the line.

40.2 — Minnesota ball. Down 3. Who’s getting the rock?

3:15 — Chelsea Gray out here looking like James Harden, sucking in two defenders on the drive before kicking out to a wideeeee open Nneka Ogwumike on the three-point line. She has a new fan.

3:59 — Sylvia Fowles just picked up her 5th foul, and she does NOT agree with the call.

5:05 — Welp, this one’s a game again. Who thought it would be this close? Minnesota fell behind but have fought their way back into this one midway through the fourth.

8:09 — TIMEOUT, Sparks. Minnesota seems to have finally woken up and they’ve come back to within six. Things are getting a little testy between the two teams. Is this a... Hostile Act Review?

The 2018-19 WNBA season opens on Sunday with a Finals rematch between the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks. It’s a rivalry showdown that has become one of the best in the sport’s history.

After all, the Sparks won the 2016 WNBA Finals on a game-winning buzzer beater fromMVP Nneka Ogwumike. The Lynx responded and beat the Sparks for the WNBA championship in 2017 on a cold-blooded game-winning floater from Maya Moore. There’s real history between these two teams. That’s why you should tune in for the season opener.

There’s a hiccup, though: The Sparks are really short-handed. Candace Parker is out six weeks with a torn meniscus. And both Jantel Lavender and Maria Vadeeva are finishing their contracts overseas before they return to the states to play for the Sparks. Ogwumike has only been back from Russia for about a week. L.A. hasn’t had all its players in for training camp and is figuring things out on the fly.

The Lynx should have this early season matchup in the bag, but you never know how these things go. Here’s how you can watch the season opener on Sunday:

Minnesota Lynx vs. Los Angeles Sparks

Time: 5 p.m. ET

Channel: ESPN 2

Live Stream: Watch ESPN