Minneapolis, MN – The 2017 WNBA Finals. The Los Angeles Sparks versus the Minnesota Lynx.
A repeat of the 2016 finals, and, as it was in last year’s championship bout, it came down to the wire. Each and every game.
Game 5 was no different.
“I know LA wanted to win.” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, “They hung in there.”
Sparks guard Odyssey Sims led a rally with less than a minute to play to cut the L.A. deficit to three.
Trailing all game, the Sparks had all the momentum in the world one their side.
Then, Lynx guard Maya Moore drained a jumper from the free-throw line with 26 seconds left, all but sealing an 85-76 win over the Sparks to seal their fourth championship in seven season.
Moore led the Lynx with 18 points and posted 10 rebounds, while regular season and WNBA finals MVP Sylvia Fowles broke her own record of 17 rebounds with 20 in game 5.
“I think it’ll be hard to find another group that’s, as talented, as deep, but as selfless as this group.” said Moore
Fowles added another 17 points as all five Lynx starters tallied up double-digit scoring, as opposed to the Sparks’ three.
Candace Parker would play part of LA’s first 10 points, and eventually scored or assisted 20 of the Sparks 35, first-half points. She finished with a game-high 19 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double.
Minnesota dug a deep 7-0 hole for Los Angeles in the opening minutes of the game, before Parker’s layup put the Sparks on the board.
The 3-point woes continued for the Sparks as well, and went 0-and-8 in the first half. In total, the Sparks nailed seven from downtown in the last two games.
Los Angeles kept it close in the second frame, cutting the tie to three before the Lynx stretched its lead to 10. The Sparks fought back to make it a single-digit deficit at halftime.
The Sparks cut it to a six-point deficit in the third quarter, but the Lynx would pull away and make it a double-digit lead midway into the final quarter of the season.
Ogwumike fouled out with a healthy 5:30 left in the final frame, before Los Angeles went on a two-minute scoring drought.
“We’re not going to give up.” said Parker
Sims stole possession for Whalen for the 46.5 second layup to cut the deficit six.
The Sparks guard, who put eight on the board in the final minutes of game 4, continued to lead the rally and picked off Gray’s steal effort to make an and-1 play to cut it to a 79-76 Lynx lead with 34.9 left in the game.
Moore sunk a jumper at the free-throw line in the ensuing Lynx possession to push the lead to five.
Poor distance shots in the final moments doomed the Sparks. Whalen sank two free-throws with 8.3 left in the game to seal the franchise’s fourth championship.