Scouting Report: Lynx vs. Sparks
Web Editorial Associate
Lynx (21-4) vs. Sparks (19-8) - 7 p.m. Target Center
Where to Watch: NBA TV; WNBA Live Access
Where to Listen: 106.1 FM
As the Lynx continue to put together wins during the second half of the season, they’re jockeying for playoff positioning among conference rivals. In the West, the No. 2 Sparks had been keeping pace with the Lynx through most of August, but after dropping their last two to Tulsa and Chicago, Los Angeles seems to be struggling.
They may have a hard time getting back on track as they take on Minnesota tonight at 7 p.m. at Target Center.
The Lynx are coming off of a 92-83 win over the Tulsa Shock and are looking to extend their winning streak to nine. Against Tulsa, the Lynx trailed for most of the first half but broke away in the third quarter when they outscored the Shock 29-11. Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson posted 19 points each, and Brunson grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Sparks fell to the Sky 85-74 on Sunday in Chicago. Kristi Toliver scored 19 points and Alana Beard added 16, but it wouldn’t be enough to match a Sky team that shot 50 percent and had six players score in double figures. L.A. has now lost back-to-back games, snapping a nine-game winning streak that stretched from July 5 through Aug. 25. A win by Minnesota tonight would push the Lynx's lead over the Sparks in the Western Conference to 4.0 games.
Last time out
The last matchup between the Lynx and the Sparks resulted in a 96-90 Lynx loss in Los Angeles and was the middle of a three-game losing streak for Minnesota. Seimone Augustus scored 18 points and Maya Moore had 14, while Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Rebekkah Brunson pulled down nine rebounds each. For the Sparks, Kristi Toliver and Candace Parker went on a scoring spree, recording 29 and 28 points respectively. Toliver went 6-for-6 from three-point range and dished six assists.
Key matchup: Whalen vs. Toliver
Lindsay Whalen has been a leader for the Lynx this year on both ends of the floor, but the Lynx have said recently that their defensive efforts are what need to be in sync for them to come together and win games. She’s coming off a 19-point offensive effort against the Shock and is averaging 11.4 points and 5.7 assists per game, but her role as the leader of the Lynx’s defense will be tested tonight against Kristi Toliver.
Toliver is averaging 18.7 points per game and has put up double figures in her last 11 games, scoring 20-plus points in seven of those games. Ranked No. 3 in the league in 3-pointers made (57) and having drained six threes in the Sparks’ last meeting with the Lynx, Toliver will demand tight defense.
Augustus on verge of record
If Lynx guard Seimone Augustus scores nine points tonight, she'll become the team's all-time leading scorer passing Katie Smith's mark of 3,605 points. Augustus has spent her entire seven-year career in Minnesota and has become one of the WNBA's more feared scorers thanks to her unique offensive skillset. She has socred 10 points or more in every game this season, with her season-high in points being 26 against the New York Liberty on June 21. She's averaging 21.5 points per game in two contests against L.A. this season, including a 25-point effort on May 24 and an 18-point performance on July 5.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin Bobblehead Night
Get to tonight's game early, because the Lynx are hosting Taj McWilliams-Franklin Bobblehead Night, presented by Boston Scientific. The first 2,500 fans to enter Target Center will receive an exclusive Taj McWilliams-Franklin bobblehead.
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