In a hugely disappointing game three of the WNBA Finals, the Lynx were a step behind the Sparks all night and lost by a final score of 92-75 to fall behind two game to one in the series. They will face an elimination game in Los Angeles in game four on Sunday.
It went bad early for the Lynx, who fell behind 7-0 in the first minutes of the game, and it only got worse from there, as the Sparks used pressure defense to force turnovers and surprisingly dominated the glass on their way to a lead that ballooned to 30-8 late in the first quarter. The Lynx made a furious run in the last five minutes of the first half, cutting a 20 point deficit to eight at halftime behind tougher defense, but that was as close as they would get. They were again plagued by turnovers in the second half, and the Sparks were able to stretch out their lead once gain and cruise through the fourth quarter.
The Sparks were by far the more active and aggressive team tonight. They applied strong ball pressure on the Lynx guards from the start, disrupting any offensive flow the Lynx tried to establish and forcing a spate of early turnovers. This proved devastating for the Lynx, whose 13 turnovers overall led to 24 Sparks points. The Sparks also dominated the glass, an area where the Lynx had an advantage all season and in the first two games of the series. Time after time Candace Parker or Nneka Ogwumike snared offensive rebounds in the early going, and ultimately they out rebounded the Lynx 11-five on the offensive boards.
Parker and Ogwumike were, as usual, the stars for the Sparks, both scoring over 20 points and grabbing nine boards apiece, but the Sparks got terrific contributions from Alana Beard, who was the linchpin of the defense and finished with 17 points and seven assists, and Essence Carson who made all four of her three-point attempts and finished with 16.
The Lynx could not get anything going for most of the game. Rebekkah Brunson (14 points) was intermittently effective with her jump shot, and Sylvia Fowles (14) was able to get to the basket occasionally, but due to the turnovers the Lynx were never able to get into a real rhythm offensively. They were outscored by 20 in the paint, and spent a lot of possessions stuck on the perimeter and forcing up long two-pointers. It was not a good look.
There really isn’t much to say; it was a comprehensive victory for the Sparks, who were the better team from start to finish. The Lynx will have to find answers by Sunday if they want to get this to a game five back in Minneapolis.
Let’s bullet point the rest of this:
- The Sparks effectively controlled Maya Moore, who finished with nine points on seven shot attempts. She simply can’t be as small a factor as that in this big a game.
- The Sparks finally found the range from three, as was bound to happen. They finished 7-15 from beyond the arc after going 6-32 in Minneapolis. Essence Carson and Nneka Ogwumike were a combined 6-6 from three.
- Natasha Howard has seen her playing time disappear after her great series against Phoenix. Only five minutes tonight. Not sure why. Cheryl Reeve has decided to ride her starters in the Finals, but Howard seems like she could help against Parker, who absolutely dominated tonight.
- Janel McCarville left the game with more back problems in the third quarter and did not return. She had to be helped to the locker room, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s not available on Sunday.
- No doubt the Sparks will again look to pressure the Lynx on the perimeter on Sunday; the Lynx must move themselves and the ball better to make the Sparks pay for their aggressiveness.