The Lynx had a historic matchup today with the L.A. Sparks. Both teams were undefeated but Minnesota had a one game edge at 12 wins, the best start to a season ever in the WNBA. This was the first time in history that two teams with double digit wins and no losses or ties have met in all of the major professional sports.
The teams played at 2:30 PM CST, and if you're wondering why the WNBA has had so many day games this year, it's because each team has one home game during the day called "Camp Day." It's a game for youth camps to attend during the summer. Fans around the internet were flabbergasted that a key matchup like this was being played at this time, but it's not like the schedule makers knew this game would be so important.
The game certainly lived up to the hype. The teams went back and forth throughout in what started out as a sloppy exhibition filled with fouls. The teams had 23 fouls in the first half alone but the refs toned it down a bit with only 13 in the second.
Still, it wasn't an ideal game to watch early on, considering the teams on the court. Both were one and two in offensive and defensive scoring coming into the game. The Lynx with the better offense and the Sparks with the better defense. These two juggernauts wanted the win so bad but the refs didn't really let them play much in the first.
Stars like Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Nneka Ogwumike each had three fouls at half. Moore ended up getting her fourth midway through the third and then left early in the fourth with a left thigh injury and did not return. That was a bit unnerving for Lynx fans but the show was spectacular even without the superstar Moore. She was voted into the top 20 players all-time by the WNBA and is on that list after only being in the league for five years.
There were 17 lead changes and 12 ties during this teeter totter game and it came down to the final possession. The game was 69-69 with 7.5 seconds left and Minnesota had possession in the offensive end. Cheryl Reeve put in bench players Renee Montgomery and Janel McCarville, as the two had helped facilitate great ball movement earlier, each with four assists to lead the Lynx. Montgomery was 0-5 from the field in the second half, up to that point, even though she was getting great looks. Stuff just wasn't falling but she should always take those shots.
Well, she got one more shot. She nailed a 3-pointer after a great drive and pass by Lindsay Whalen and the crowd was stunned. It was a great play in a game filled with schematic changes and adjustments on the fly. The game wasn't over though and there was still 2.9 seconds left, plenty of time to get a shot off as the Sparks got the ball in their offensive end. Minnesota fouled Candace Parker right away as she got the ball which I am sure Reeve stressed to the team. The Sparks were awful at the line all day, ending up shooting 16-24.
Parker went to the line with about two seconds left and missed her first free throw. She then had to purposely miss the second. She did, and she tipped the rebound to Kristi Toliver who gave the Lynx quite a scare. She nailed the shot but she was a couple inches short of being a three and a few milliseconds late as well. It didn't count.
The Lynx did it. They held on to win 72-69 and extend their record yet again to 13-0.
Their dominance on the boards (42-29) was what kept them in it all game. 12 of those were offensive and that helped make up for a sub-par shooting night at 41.4 percent from the field. Fowles ended with 11 rebounds and only seven points, but she had the tying bucket to make it 69-69 late. The foul trouble limited her effectiveness in this game.
Seimone Augustus led the Lynx in scoring at 13 points. Jia Perkins had a great game off the bench. She scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds and had four of Minnesota's 12 steals. Recently she has really helped the team in their wins even if it's not always with her scoring. Natasha Howard had 12 points in 16 minutes of play, continuing her efficient trend these past few games.
Moore left with an injury and there's no word on the severity of it yet. She was on the bench watching the game until the end so it may have just been a precautionary measure. In fact, these two teams matchup yet again this Friday. This time it will be in Target Center and maybe Reeve wanted to ensure she had her superstar back for the rematch, regardless of the outcome of this one.
It's scary that Minnesota can have their best player go down and still beat an 11-0 team on the road. From top to bottom, they have players that are great and that want to win every single game. The Sparks will do their best to get revenge and prevent that later this week.
Here's that game winning shot in case you missed it: