WNBA Playoffs 2003
Round 1, Game 1
Lynx 74, Sparks 72
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In addition to the game-winning layup, Tamika Williams also had five steals, one shy of a WNBA playoff record.
David Sherman, WNBAE/Getty Images
Minnesota made its WNBA Playoff debut with tonight's two-point victory, snapping Los Angeles' league playoff-record nine-game winning streak in the process. It's the Sparks' first postseason defeat since an 80-60 loss against Sacramento on Aug. 26, 2001 at Staples Center. L.A. went 6-0 en route to its second straight WNBA Championship last summer, and finished up 6-1 in 2001. The Sparks are now 16-6 all time in the postseason.
The Lynx fell behind by 21 points early in the second half (53-32) before rallying to win. That represents the biggest comeback in WNBA Playoff history; New York made up an 18-point deficit in defeating Houston 68-67 on Sept. 4, 1999 at the Compaq Center, a game capped by Teresa Weatherspoon's buzzer-beater from midcourt. Tonight's comeback also marks the Lynx' biggest ever, surpassing a 16-point rally at Orlando on July 7, 1999 (a 71-66 Minnesota victory).
Tonight's win was the Lynx' first against Los Angeles since an 86-73 victory in the clubs' first-ever meeting (June 24, 1999 at the Great Western Forum). The Sparks had won 16 straight
over Minnesota since then the longest regular-season winning streak vs. a single opponent in league history including all four 2003 meetings. Prior to tonight, the Lynx had gone 0-9 vs. Los Angeles at Target Center.
Los Angeles opened up a 49-32 halftime lead tonight, the second-highest-scoring first half in WNBA Playoff history; New York tallied 50 against Washington on Aug. 24, 2002. The Sparks also sank 21 field goals before the break, matching their own WNBA Playoff mark for one half (vs. Sacramento, Aug. 24, 1999).
The Sparks finished 11-for-11 from the free-throw line, the sixth time a team has been perfect in the postseason (three of which have been by Los Angeles). The WNBA playoff high for most free throws without a miss is 16, set by Phoenix on Aug. 22, 1998 vs. Cleveland. Los Angeles enjoyed a 20-for-20 night in their first Target Center visit this season (May 28).
Lynx forward Tamika Williams
netted season highs with 16 points and five steals, including a steal and go-ahead basket with 7.4 seconds remaining. Her five steals are one shy of the WNBA single-game playoff best. Meanwhile, guard Katie Smith
led Minnesota with 23 points, capped by a game-tying three-pointer with 24.4 seconds to play. Guard Teresa Edwards
also handed out a season-high nine assists.
Sparks guard Nikki Teasley suffered a contusion on her left knee with 10:04 remaining in the first half, and did not return. Guard Shaquala Williams sustained a contusion to her cheek with 3:06 left before halftime, and was also sidelined for the rest of the evening. Both players will be reevaluated on Friday.
Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie scored a game-high 24 points, extending her league playoff-record string of double-figure efforts to 22. Leslie also surpassed Cynthia Cooper (443 points) as the WNBA's all-time leading postseason scorer, upping her career total to 447.