The Minnesota Lynx were riding high after winning their last three games prior to hosting the 2018 WNBA All Star game in Minneapolis. With a nine day all star break and positive vibes emanating from the Mayo Clinic practice courts earlier in the week the team seemed poised to keep the good times rolling.
Instead they were totally outclassed in Los Angeles. They came out of the gates sloppy, turning the ball over three times in the first four minutes. Sylvia Fowles missed each of her first five shots and the team was in a 20-8 hole after one quarter. They played catch up the rest of the way and never cut the Sparks’ lead below eight points. The Sparks big three (Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray) combined for 53 of the Sparks 79 points while Maya Moore and Fowles only had 21 points between them.
Mucked Up Offense
Unlike the Lynx defense, their offense is completely unpredictable from game to game. Last season watching Fowles was like Groundhog Day. She scored the ball in the same types of ways each game. You could set your watch to it. This season, each game is a new adventure for Fowles. Opposing teams are more aggressive with their coverages on her and Minnesota doesn’t always make the best of that situation. Passes can be forced, movement stagnates and sometimes Fowles just misses shots in the paint that she usually makes.
LA was active and disruptive defensively. They held Minnesota to their lowest point total in over seven years by getting into passing lanes and shutting down the Lynx ball movement. Los Angeles scored 25 points on 16 forced turnovers. This, combined with Minnesota’s lack of spacing was a big issue in this game. Both teams have elite half court defenses, but the Sparks were better at that end in this one.
Candace Parker is the WNBA superstar that Minnesota fans love to hate. “Princess Parker” is the nickname she’s been given by Lynx faithful. Parker played royally good basketball Thursday night. The Sparks captain put the team on her back as Los Angeles needed to get back on track at Staples Center. They had lost their last five at home prior to the win. She scored 11 of her 23 points in the first quarter kicking the Lynx in the gut to start the game. Despite the presence of defensive stopper Rebekkah Brunson, Parker was undeterred. She got loose in transition, broke down defenders off the dribble, and finished multiple ‘and-1’s’ in the paint. By the time it was all over she had 23 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Much to Lynx Nation’s chagrin, Candace Parker might be the best player in the world.
The silver lining to this game is that Cheryl Reeve was able to rest her starters as the contest devolved into a blowout late in the third quarter. The Lynx will play again Friday night in the second half of their only back-to-back situation of the season. Seattle is the best team in the league this year, but Minnesota matches up pretty well against the Storm. Matchups aside, the Lynx have no choice but to quickly reset and get ready to play again.
-Los Angeles wins the season series with Minnesota 3-1. If these teams are tied in the standings at the end of the season, the Sparks will take the higher seed.
-Good to see Nneka Ogwumike back in the lineup after missing three regular season games and one all star game with an exhaustion-related sickness.
-Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union and their family sat courtside at Staples for this game.
Back to back! Minnesota plays Friday night in Seattle. The Storm, lead by MVP frontrunner Breanna Stewart seem destined to finish with the best record in basketball. The game tips at 9pm CT. You can watch on NBA TV or listen on BOB 106 FM.