Scouting Report: Lynx at Sparks
Web Editorial Associate
Lynx (13-2) vs. Sparks (10-6) - 2 p.m. Staples Center
Where to Watch: NBA TV; WNBA Live Access
Where to Listen: 106.1 FM
Lynx guard Candice Wiggins has the inside track on what’s being said around Los Angeles this week, and the news isn’t surprising her.
Today is a big day.
“My family is from L.A.; my mom is a season ticket holder for the Sparks,” Wiggins said. “She said they want you guys so bad. The word around L.A. is, ‘We’ve got to beat the Lynx.’ It’s crazy.”
Today at Staples Center the Sparks will host the Lynx in a battle of the two best records in the Western Conference. Minnesota (13-2) and L.A. (10-6) come in with high aspirations of making a deep run in the conference playoffs come fall and with hopes of finishing the first half of the season before the month-long break on a strong note. For the Lynx, that means a victory in Los Angeles.
The Lynx were handed their second loss in 15 games in San Antonio on Sunday but spent some practice time at home on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for today’s tilt.
In Sunday's game in San Antonio, the Lynx fell behind early against a Silver Stars team that seemingly couldn't miss and knocked down their first nine shots, finishing the night with 13 three-pointers on 25 attempts. The Lynx made several runs and came within four points during the game's final minutes but were unable to gain a lead at any point in the game, eventually falling 93-84. Monica Wright led the Lynx's effort with 18 points, and Lindsay Whalen added 15 points. Rebekkah Brunson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sparks started out strong this year winning seven of their first eight games, the loss coming to Minnesota in their third game of the season. Since then, they've lost five of eight and are coming off three straight losses, two of which were also to San Antonio.
In their last outing, a 94-80 loss, the Sparks saw double-digit scoring from five players including 25 points from Candace Parker. But the Sparks couldn't handle the Silver Stars duo of Sophia Young and Becky Hammon as they scored 23 and 17 points respectively and led San Antonio to 48.6 percent shooting. The Sparks' DeLisha Milton-Jones and Alana Beard each finished with 14 points and April Sykes had 11.
Last time out
Despite three Los Angeles players scoring 20 points or more, the Lynx were able to top the Sparks 92-84 in their only matchup this year on May 24. Fuelled by Seimone Augustus's 25 points, the Lynx shot 53.1 percent and saw advantages in assists and rebounds, including a 13-8 advantage on the offensive boards. Rebekkah Brunson had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Lindsay Whalen added 14 points.
Los Angeles forward Candace Parker and guard Kristi Toliver each scored 23 points, and Nneka Ogwumike finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Key matchup: Brunson vs. Parker
Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson is averaging 11.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and comes off two consecutive double-double performances against Phoenix and San Antonio. She also posted a team-high four assists against the Silver Stars. Not only is her offense valued by the well-balanced Lynx, but Brunson is a bruising force in the paint and her play serves a leading role in the team’s defensive identity. Her ability to clog up the lanes and be physical today will be critical to the team’s success, in particular her ability to throw Candace Parker off of her offensive rhythm.
Parker owns an 18.7 points per game average and grabs 9.5 rebounds per game. She’s coming off a 25-point effort in their loss to San Antonio but was held to only two points against Tulsa the game before. As a player who’s perennially in the discussion for league MVP honors, the Lynx will ease their way to a win if they can contain Parker today.
Jessica Adair remains sidelined due to a knee operation and isn't expected to return until after the break. Minnesota finishes up the first half of the season on July 12 and will resume play on Aug. 17 against Washington.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.