Lynx Improve to 14-2 at Home
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If you were in attendance of the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx game on Wednesday night, you might have thought you were at a Western Conference Finals matchup.
That’s what the intensity in the Target Center felt like at least.
And while the game wasn't a playoff matchup, there was still plenty on the line. The teams were fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West as the Lynx came into the game leading the Sparks by a game and a half.
The Lynx extended their lead, coming away with an 83-74 win at the Target Center.
The first quarter was physical and the intensity was high between the two Western Conference rivals.
Minnesota got off to a quick 8-0 lead just two minutes into the game, but LA fought back, closing the quarter on an 18-8 run to tie things up at 18 all.
There were 12 total fouls in the first, which speaks to just how physical this game was.
Whalen continued her hot play in the second quarter, scoring eight points and adding another assist in the first five minutes of the quarter to give the Lynx a 30-25 lead.
The Lynx ended up taking a nice 45-33 lead going into the half, thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from, of all players, center Janel McCarville, who came into the game with just five 3-pointers made.
At the half, Augustus led Minnesota with 10 points, while Whalen and Maya Moore added nine points apiece. Whalen also had a game-high seven assists.
Parker led LA with 14 points.
The Lynx kept the momentum rolling in the second half, thanks to nine points from Augustus along with holding Parker scoreless in the third quarter.
Things got a little too close for comfort, as LA got within five points with just 1:53 left. Parker scored seven points in the first eight minutes into the fourth, but the Lynx were able to close out the game at home thanks to free throws made by Moore and power forward Rebekkah Brunson in the final minutes.
Augustus led all scorers with 23 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
"I thought her approach from start to finish was terrific," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "She had the job of trying to shut down Toliver, when Seimone wasn't guarding her, that's when Toliver scored. And 'Mone had the responsibility of getting us off to a good start with her offense."
Moore continued her hot streak, adding 20 points and six rebounds while playing a game-high 38 minutes. McCarville had a balanced game, finishing with 12 points, four assists and four rebounds. Brunson added another double-double to her collection, scoring 11 points while hauling in 11 rebounds. Whalen scored just nine points, but had a career-high 14 assists and two steals to help lead the Lynx. Seven of those assists went to Augustus.
Parker led the Sparks with 25 points and eight rebounds, while Toliver finished with 14 points. Power forward Nneka Ogwumike also scored 11 points.
The Lynx (23-7) now lead LA by (21-10) by 2.5 games for first place in the Western Conference, and with four games left, they are not only set to get the No. 1 seed in the West, but in the entire WNBA as they lead Chicago (21-8) by two games.
Leader of the Pack: Lindsay Whalen
Whalen had a classic “Lindsay Whalen Game” on Wednesday night, doing a little bit of everything. She finished with nine points, a career-high 14 assists and her two first quarter steals kept the Lynx in the game early on.
She had 10 assists before the third quarter even ended. Once again, Whalen proved she is the face of point guards in the WNBA.
"Yeah, I think everyone was knocking shots down," Whalen said. "And making plays, just tried to be aggressive, honestly, I had no idea it was that number, but it just means we were moving the ball around as a team. And we'll take the win and that's what I'm most excited about."
Highlight of the Game
The Lynx looked like they were going to go into the second half with a comfortable 42-33 lead.
Whalen was getting pressed by LA guard Lindsey Harding and it didn’t look like Minnesota would get a shot off.
And then the Gopher-to-Gopher connection happened.
Whalen found McCarville in the corner. McCarville caught it off-balanced and threw up a 3-pointer and it was nothing but net and she heard nothing but screams from an excited Minnesota fan base, bringing fans back to the University of Minnesota glory days.
"Anytime you can score like that, on that type of play, J was pretty juiced up," Reeve said. "The team was pretty juiced up for her... It was pretty exciting."
The Numbers Game
"My understanding is that the WWE was in town last night. And J was in attendance and maybe fed off that a little bit. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but that's what her teammates suggested."
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve on Janel McCarville receiving a technical foul in the final quarter of the game.
The Lynx hit the road on Saturday to take on the Seattle Storm (15-15) at 9 p.m. The game will be available on BOB 106.1 FM.
The following Tuesday, the Lynx play the Storm again at 9 p.m. in Seattle, follow by a road game against the Sparks on Thursday.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.