Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Sparks led at halftime against the Minnesota Lynx but the third quarter was crucial. The Sparks used intensity and tough defense to keep the Lynx from making a run and coming back.
“We’ve been up at halftime in the last four or five games we have lost at home.” Candace Parker said. “The third quarter, to us, was huge. We came out and answered that.”
Parker finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sparks to a dominating 79-57 win over the defending champion Lynx Thursday night at the Staples Center. It was Parkers’ ninth double-double of the season.
The Sparks defense held the Lynx to a season low in total points and made defensive stops from beginning to end. Both teams know each other well, having played 20 times in the last three years.
“I think it all starts with the defensive end,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “We got off to a good start. We only gave up eight points in the first quarter and Candace was real aggressive early.”
Los Angeles took 20-8 lead after the first quarter and continued the dominance in the second quarter as Chelsea Gray dropped a no-look pass to Nneka Ogwumike for an easy layup and a 12-point lead.
Parker had 16 points and six rebounds in the first half and the Sparks led, 40-29, at halftime. Coming off her second ALL-Star appearance, Gray continues to shoot, penetrate and make plays.
“I was taking what the defense gave me,” Gray, who added 18 points and nine rebounds, said. “Once we are getting stops and playing in transition, we are one of the best teams to do that.”
The Sparks sit at third place in the Western Conference standings with seven games left in the season and remain in the playoff hunt.
“Every game is very important,” Agler said. “We are going to try to get the highest seed possible.We got very good opponent in Phoenix coming in here on Sunday. Everytime someone wins or loses, the whole standings adjust so we have to get as many wins possible.”