Sparks 87, Lynx 83
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Svetlana Abrosimova led the Lynx with 15 points, one of a team-record-tying five players in double figures.
David Sherman, WNBAE/Getty Images
Tonight's loss snapped Minnesota's club-record seven-game home winning streak
, which began with a 77-59 victory over Sacramento on July 8 and included two wins each over Seattle and San Antonio. The Lynx slip to 11-5 at Target Center, and kick off a three-game road trip Saturday night at San Antonio before closing out the regular season by hosting Detroit one week later (Aug. 23).
Minnesota has dropped three of its last four games overall, after going 8-3 in the previous 11. They're 16-14 on the season, a half-game ahead of Sacramento (15-14) for fourth place in the Western Conference playoff race. The Monarchs face Detroit on Friday night at ARCO Arena.
Los Angeles remains unbeaten in eight all-time visits to Target Center, beating the Lynx for the 15th consecutive time overall
. Minnesota's lone victory in the series came in the clubs' first-ever meeting, an 86-73 triumph on June 24, 1999 at the Great Western Forum. Eleven of the Sparks' last 12 wins vs. Minnesota have been by single-digit margins; the three 2003 meetings have been decided by a total of eight points.
The Sparks (20-10) clinched a playoff berth with tonight's victory, moving four games in front of Minnesota with four remaining and holding the tiebreaker by virtue of a 3-0 head-to-head record. L.A. can thus finish no worse than fourth; the Sparks pull into a virtual tie with Houston (19-9) for the West's top spot, and complete their five-game road trip (2-2 thus far) with a stop at the Compaq Center on Saturday afternoon.
Tonight's win was only the second for Los Angeles in its last seven games, having snapped a four-game losing streak with a 67-64 victory at Phoenix last Friday on Mwadi Mabika's three-pointer at the buzzer. The Sparks improve their road record to a WNBA-best 12-4. They've now won at least 20 games in each of the last five seasons; coach Michael Cooper is 101-25 in four years on the Los Angeles bench.
Los Angeles' 87 points represents its second-highest total of the season, trailing only a 97-91 victory at Washington on July 9. The Sparks are 8-0 this season when tallying 80+. The total is the fourth-highest ever by a Lynx opponent; the previous high mark against Minnesota this season was Connecticut's 84 on July 23. Meanwhile, the Lynx finished with 83 points this evening, their highest regulation total ever in a losing effort. Minnesota's top figure in that category over was set in a 100-95 OT loss at L.A. on July 8, 2001.
The Sparks enjoyed a 31-28 rebounding edge, marking the first time in 10 games (since July 17 at Cleveland) that Minnesota has come up short. The Lynx outboarded eight of those 10 foes, and had two ties. Meanwhile, Los Angeles forced 21 Lynx turnovers, the ninth time this season Minnesota has committed 20 or more (fourth in the last seven).
Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie returned to action after missing 11 games due to a knee injury suffered in the WNBA All-Star Game on July 12. She finished with 19 points in 25 minutes, before fouling out with 55 seconds remaining. In addition, forward DeLisha Milton returned from a three-game absence (ankle) and tallied a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes. It's her third point/rebound double-double this year and third straight 20-point effort. Milton is averaging 20.0 ppg in her last seven outings.
Sparks guard Nikki Teasley contributed 15 points and 11 assists, her fifth double-digit assist night of the year and third point/assist double-double. Teasley, who scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, also played all 40 minutes for her fifth complete game. She ranks third in the WNBA in assists (6.3 apg).
The Lynx hit a season-high 11 three-pointers (in 21 attempts), including three each by forward Sheri Sam
and guards Katie Smith
and Teresa Edwards
. Minnesota shot 49.1% from the field overall; they've hit 48.8% in their last 10 at Target Center. Overall, the Lynx rank second in field-goal accuracy at 44.8%.
Minnesota equaled a franchise single-game record by placing five players in double-figures, led by forward Svetlana Abrosimova's
15 points. The Lynx bench provided a season-high 25 points, with Sheri Sam netting 13. Sam scored the 2,000th point of her WNBA career
with a three-pointer at the 6:30 mark of the first half, becoming the 25th player in league history to reach that mark. She tallied 20 in last Saturday's win at Sacramento, the second-highest bench effort ever for the Lynx.