Lynx Pregame Audio
Head coach Jen Gillom
Jonah Ballow with Candice Wiggins
Last year, Los Angeles recorded a 20-14 record while falling just short of a trip to the WNBA Finals with a series loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars. This season has been a tale of two different teams through two games of the 2009-year. After cruising to an opening night victory over the Shock, Los Angeles fell 81-52 just two days later in the rematch in Detroit. In the two games this season the Sparks are averaging just 65 points per game and only shooting 36 percent from the field as a team. The Sparks continue their 4-game road trip early in the season with a stop at the Target Center tonight.
On Sunday night, the Los Angeles starting backcourt only combined for 16 points and two assists. The Sparks hope Betty Lennox returns to form as seen in the first game where she posted 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Lennox also snagged 10 boards in the season-opener to help Los Angeles' deficiencies in the rebounding department. The Sparks were clearly a different team with the high production of Lennox from the guard position. Minnesota's backcourt of Kelly Miller, Candice Wiggins, and Renee Montgomery will force the pace of the game after two high-scoring wins against Chicago and Indiana. Through two games, the Lynx guards have been crucial to the fast break style of offense that has led to a 2-0 start.
Lisa Leslie takes center stage tonight in her final season in the WNBA. The Leslie retirement tour will not deflect the Lynx focus for a chance at their third consecutive victory. However, the WNBA legend will present a difficult matchup inside the paint. In 2008, Leslie led the Sparks in steals and blocked shots as the defensive anchor for the team. Leslie has not been dominating in the first two games but Nicky Anosike, Charde Houston, and Quanitra Hollingsworth will need to attack in the post tonight. Houston exploded for 23 points in the victory over Indiana on Sunday night and the same type of effort can soften a Sparks' team that ranked first in opponents field goal percentage last year. Obviously, Los Angeles is not as dangerous without its star second-year forward Candace Parker in the lineup. While the 2008 Rookie of the Year and MVP recovers from the birth of her first child, the Sparks search for offense to replace the 18.5 points per game last year.
Keys To A Win For Minnesota:
--Slow the LA transition game
--Dominate the paint and force Leslie in foul trouble
--Continue to push the pace
--Let defense turn to quick offense
Matchup To Watch:
Lisa Leslie vs. Nicky Anosike
"We want to be able to defend their half-court sets and we want to be able to get back in transition, that is going to be one of the biggest keys. Also, they shot 19 3-pointers in their first game; they will come down in transition and knock down 3's as well. It's going to be really important that we pay close attention to the defensive end." --Assistant Coach Jim Petersen
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