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Tamika Williams' layup with 7.4 seconds remaining gave the Lynx a two-point win in Game 1.
David Sherman, WNBAE/Getty Images

Game 1: Lynx 74, Sparks 72
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Williams' steal and layup


Sheri Sam had 11 points off the bench in Game 2 and averaged 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in the three playoff games.
Noah Graham, WNBAE/Getty Images

Game 2: Sparks 80, Lynx 69
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Svetlana Abrosimova scored eight points with two rebounds in Game 3.
Noah Graham, WNBAE/Getty Images

Game 3: Sparks 74, Lynx 64
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May | June | July | August | Playoffs | 2003 in review

After setting a team record with 18 regular-season wins, the fourth-seeded Minnesota Lynx entered their first-ever playoffs facing the top-seeded and two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks.

With the WNBA's 1-2 playoff format, the Lynx and Sparks opened the series at Target Center. Los Angeles took the lead just six seconds into Game 1 when Tamecka Dixon hit a driving layup. Tamika Williams answered with a layup of her own, but the Sparks scored 14 of the next 18 points and had a 16-6 lead at the first timeout. Los Angeles didn't let up and took a 17-point lead, 49-32, into the break. The Lynx had only four turnovers in the first half — equaling the Sparks — but shot only 36.7 percent, compared to L.A.'s 67.7 percent.

Things didn't look any better for the Lynx at the beginning of the second half. L.A. won the tip-off and scored two free throws and a jump shot, taking a 21-point lead. But then the Lynx started their comeback. Katie Smith scored four points, Janell Burse added a three-point play and Williams hit a layup, and combined with the Sparks' three missed field goals and three turnovers, the Lynx's 9-0 run cut the deficit to 12, 53-41 — with 15:26 still to go.

The score remained the same for two and a half minutes before Los Angeles stopped its scoring drought with a driving layup by Mwadi Mabika. But a 5-0 Lynx run cut the Sparks' lead to single digits — 9 — with more than half of the second period remaining. The two teams traded points, and Mabika hit a jumper to put the Sparks up 10 with just under nine minutes to go. But the Lynx then went on a 7-0 run off a layup by Kristi Harrower and five points from Smith, including a three-pointer, and the lead was only three — with more than seven minutes left.

After the Sparks went back up by five, the Lynx rattled off six straight points and took their first lead of the game, 62-61, with 5:23 remaining in regulation. The lead then changed hands several times. The Sparks' Lisa Leslie gave her team a two-point lead with a three-point play, but Teresa Edwards tied it with two free throws. Dixon hit two free throws for a two-point Sparks lead, then Edwards hit a three-pointer to give the Lynx a one-point advantage. After Mabika hit a layup, Leslie put in a five-foot jumper to give the Sparks a three-point lead with 41 seconds remaining. But Smith answered with a three-pointer off an assist from Edwards, tying the game at 72 with 24.4 seconds remaining.

The Sparks brought the ball down the court, and just over the halfcourt line, Edwards kicked the ball, stopping the clock. Mabika threw the ball in play but Williams stepped in front of the pass, then streaked down the court and hit a layup to put the Lynx up two with 7.4 seconds remaining. Out of timeouts, the Sparks raced to their end of the court, but Burse blocked Mabika's last-second attempt and the Lynx won their first-ever playoff game. Smith scored a team-high 23 points, Williams added 16 and Edwards had nine assists.

With a 1-0 series lead, the Lynx headed to Los Angeles for Game 2. Minnesota took an early 5-3 lead with a three-point play by Burse, but the Sparks went on a 7-0 run and never trailed the remainder of the game. DeLisha Milton scored seven points in a 15-2 surge that opened a 28-12 cushion 8:35 before halftime. The Lynx had 15 turnovers in the first half, and the Sparks had a 10-point lead at the break.

Los Angeles took its biggest lead of the game at 22, 54-32 with 13:17 remaining, before the Lynx began their comeback. Williams capped a 12-2 run with a layup that brought the Lynx within 12, but the Sparks responded with five points of their own and pushed the lead to 19 with 6:31 to go. The Lynx once again rallied, pulling to within eight points when Sheri Sam hit a jump shot with exactly two minutes remaining, but the Sparks held on and tied the series 1-1 with an 80-69 win. Smith led the Lynx with 18 points, while Williams had 17 and Sam 11.

Los Angeles started the series-deciding game quickly, as Nikki Teasley hit a three-pointer on their first possession. The Lynx tied it with 18:25 remaining in the first half on a trey by Edwards, but the Sparks went on an 8-2 run and the Lynx didn't get within two points the remainder of the game. Minnesota's early shooting woes continued, as the Lynx hit only 32.3 percent of their shots in the first half, and Los Angeles led by 12 at the break.

The Sparks took their biggest lead at 15 with 18:22 remaining in the game when Leslie converted a three-point play. The Lynx cut the lead to single digits seven times in the second half, but seven points was the closest they could come. All five Sparks starters were in double figures and Los Angeles won the series with a 74-64 victory, ending the season for the Lynx. Williams scored all 17 of her points in the second half, adding nine rebounds in the game, but Smith was the only other Lynx player in double figures, scoring 11. Edwards had eight points and eight assists.

The Sparks advanced to the Western Conference Finals to face the third-seeded Sacramento Monarchs, which upset second-seeded Houston in their first-round matchup.

Lynx Game-By-Game Results – Playoffs 2003
Game Date Opponent Result Record High Pts High Reb Attendance
1 Aug 28 Los Angeles W 74-72 1-0 Smith 23 Burse 6
Williams 6
3,622
2 Aug 30 @ Los Angeles L 69-80 1-1 Smith 18 Williams 7 8,128
3 Sep 1 @ Los Angeles L 64-74 1-2 Williams 17 Williams 17 6,920






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