Los Angeles, CA – A very familiar third quarter push took place for the LA Sparks (6-13) as they battled against the Minnesota Lynx (12-7) on Sunday evening. A driving finger roll layup by Brittney Sykes cut the lead to six. Despite the effort, Minnesota’s offensive efficiency propelled them to close out the first half of the season with a 86-61 win going into the Olympic break.
Nearly everything was falling for the Lynx.
In the first quarter alone, the Lynx went 80% from both the field and beyond the arc. They finished 55.9% from the field and 47.4% from 3-point range.
Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier led all players with a season-high 27 points (tying her career-high in a single game) and 7 rebounds.
All was well on the offensive front for the Lynx, but the same could not be said about the LA Sparks.
LA Sparks were visibly frustrated and had numerous missed layups.
Defensively, the LA Sparks forced 18 turnovers and scored 13 points off those turnovers.
“The one thing you can’t question is our effort,” said Erica Wheeler. “We’re down bodies and we’re still trying to get it done. We’re still turning teams over and we’re still getting more shots. It’s just more so us being down bodies and just not making shots and just finishing plays that’s kind of easy. So just going into this break, I think that it came at the perfect time. We all need it. But just when we come back and get back in the gym, we should have everybody back and healthy. We’re probably the best defensive team, it’s more so offense for us.”
Wheeler was the spark plug driving her team to get back in the game. She was aggressive down the lane and hustled on defense.
With 1.7 seconds left in the second quarter, Sykes hit a buzzer beater to cut the lead to twelve, 43-31.
The LA Sparks came out with a different intensity in the third quarter.
“We’re going to keep getting better and keep doing the work,” said head coach Derek Fisher, “I think grit is something that we’re starting to form as a team. I think every player that’s here has it, or they wouldn’t be here. But there’s a team level of grit that we have to develop and keep working on and I think we started scratching the surface on those things during this period.”
Throughout the second half, the Lynx continued to extend their lead. Their largest lead of the game was 28 points.
The Lynx held the Sparks to just 61 points, the fewest an opponent has scored against them all season.
“We’ll get back to work individually and collectively. To be prepared to start this season back again in mid-August and look at it as a new opportunity to come out and play one game at a time and give ourselves a chance to win every night and then go from there,” said Fisher.
Lauren Cox corralled a career-high 8 rebounds in a career-high 23 minutes.
Amanda Zahui B. was awarded the May WNBA Cares Community Assist Award.
Head coach Fisher shared his plans for the season hiatus.
“For the next month, I’ll be taking some time as well. Just to reflect and think about our team in terms of how as a staff we can help our group to get better. And then just start to plan for what we want things to look like as players start to return to LA.”
Following the Olympic break, The LA Sparks return to their home floor at the Staples Center where they will face off against the Indiana Fever on August 15, at 6 p.m.