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GAME 5: SPARKS DETHRONE LYNX IN INSTANT CLASSIC

In one of the greatest games in WNBA history, the Sparks emerged as champions for the first time since 2002 after regular season MVP Nneka Ogwumike dropped in a put-back with 3.1 seconds left, lifting L.A. to a 77-76 victory. Candace Parker, the team’s No. 1 pick in 2008, delivered 28 points and 12 rebounds in the biggest performance of her storied career to win her first title and capture Finals MVP honors. Lynx star Maya Moore posted 23 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds, hitting a go-ahead shot with 15.4 seconds remaining. But Ogwumike’s heroics sealed L.A.’s third title to cap the WNBA’s historic 20th season.


GAME 4: MAYA CARRIES LYNX TO FORCE GAME 5

With their backs against the wall, the defending champs gutted out an 85-79 victory on the road in L.A., preventing the Sparks from celebrating their first title since 2002. Maya Moore authored another classic game in her decorated career, pouring in 31 points on 9-of-17 shooting and adding nine rebounds and five assists. The Lynx led by as many as 10 in the third quarter before the Sparks clawed their way back, but Moore iced the game with four free throws in the final 10 seconds.


GAME 3: SPARKS SURGE, TAKE 2-1 LEAD

Back in L.A., the Sparks wasted no time retaking command of the series, jumping out to a 13-2 lead 4:05 into the game. They closed the first quarter up, 32-17, falling just shy of the WNBA Finals record for points in the opening frame. Despite a Lynx run that brought that margin the margin to as little as eight, the Sparks held on to win, 92-75, to move within one game of their first title since 2002. The MVP tandem of Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike came up huge, combining for 45 points on 19-of-33 shooting.


GAME 2: MAYA, LYNX ROAR BACK

The defending champs responded to a crushing Game 1 loss by taking command of Game 2 in the second quarter, using a 12-1 run to build a 14-point halftime lead. L.A. battled back with a 14-0 third quarter run to narrow the gap to three, but the Lynx once again pulled away. Maya Moore led the charge with 21 points and 12 rebounds, Sylvia Fowles also notched a double-double (13 points, 15 rebounds), and Seimone Augustus scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half.


GAME 1: BEARD’S BUZZER-BEATER STUNS LYNX

Game 1 featured all the drama expected from this epic Finals matchup. And fittingly, the game came down to the final second. But it was not Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike or Maya Moore who stepped up as the hero. Sparks veteran Alana Beard sunk the game-winning jumper from the corner as the buzzer sounded to help L.A. steal the opener on the road.


FINALS PREVIEW: #2 SPARKS VS. #1 LYNX

The top two teams all season long fittingly meet in the Finals during the first season of the new WNBA Playoff format, marking the first-ever championship matchup between two Western Conference teams. All eyes will be on Sparks star Candace Parker during her first Finals and L.A.’s first since 2003. The Sparks are eyeing their first title since repeating in 2002 — a feat the Lynx hope to accomplish for the first time. A Minnesota title would be the team’s fourth in six season, matching the Houston Comets for the most all-time.



SEMIFINALS


#1 LYNX DEFEAT #8 MERCURY, 3-0

Game 3 (Lynx 82, Mercury 67) — Minnesota is Finals bound again, as they cruised past the Mercury in Game 3 to complete the sweep of their semifinal series. Maya Moore lead all scorers with 20 points, and Natasha Howard put in an impressive effort off the bench, finishing with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Box ScoreGame Recap | Top Plays

Game 2 (Lynx 96, Mercury 86) — Minnesota’s star power once again proved too much for the Mercury, and Maya Moore once again led the charge with 26 points. The Lynx took command in a dominating first quarter, outscoring Phoenix 35-24 in the opening frame. The teams combined for a WNBA Playoff record 62 free throws. Box Score | Olympians Lead Lynx | Brunson 2nd in Playoff Rebounding

Game 1 (Lynx 113, Mercury 95) — Behind 31 points from Maya Moore — including 15 in the first quarter — and with five more Lynx players scoring in double-figures, Minnesota set the WNBA regulation playoff scoring record with 113 points in their victory over Phoenix in Game 1 of their Semifinal matchup. Diana Taurasi poured in 25 points in the loss. Box Score | Moore Pours in 31 | Moore vs. Taurasi Duel


#2 SPARKS DEFEAT #4 SKY, 3-1

Game 4 (Sparks 95, Sky 75) — Just like in Game 3, the Sparks cruised early, jumping out to a 28-point lead at one point in the second quarter. And just like in Game 3, the Sky came storming back, cutting the Sparks’ lead to just eight points early in the fourth. Thanks to 29 points from Candace Parker, however, Los Angeles was able to hang on for a 95-75 victory to earn a trip to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2003. Box Score | Parker Scores 29 | Toliver Shoots 5-for-5

Game 3 (Sky 70, Sparks 66) — The Chicago Sky locked up on the defensive end in the second half, holding the Sparks to just 27 points over the final two quarters as they stormed back from a double-digit deficit to take Game 3. Courtney Vandersloot lead the Sky with 17 points, while rookie Imani Boyette stepped up in a big way, delivering a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Box Score | Vandersloot Carrying Sky | Parker, Ogwumike Go For 38

Game 2 (Sparks 99, Sky 84) — Candace Parker and Jantel Lavender scored 20 points each to lead all scorers, and Nneka Ogwumike added 18 of her own as the Sparks cruised to a Game 2 victory. They knocked down 10 three-pointers on the evening, and held the Sky to just 38.5 percent shooting from the field. Box Score | Sparks Sink 10 Threes | Parker, Ogwumike Combine for 38

Game 1 (Sparks 95, Sky 75) — Fresh off Nneka’s MVP award and Jantel Lavender taking home Sixth Woman of the Year, the Sparks looked like a force to be reckoned with in their 20-point victory over the Sky. Ogwumike and Candace Parker combined for 57 points in the victory. Elena Delle Donne was ruled out for Chicago as she recovers from thumb surgery. Box Score | Parker Drops 30 Points | Ogwumike’s Double-Double


SECOND ROUND


#8 MERCURY 101, #3 LIBERTY 94

Diana Taurasi scored 30 points to lead the Mercury to a win over the Liberty in New York. The Mercury now advance to the best-of-5 semifinals and will face the No. 1 seed Lynx. Brittney Griner scored 22 points and Penny Taylor added 20.


#4 SKY 108, #6 DREAM 98

With star Elena Delle Donne sidelined due to a thumb injury, the Sky rallied to advance behind a team effort. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot led the way with 21 points, 13 assists and four steals, while forward Jessica Breland contributed 20 points and 16 rebounds. Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry posted 27 points and nine assists in the loss.


FIRST ROUND


#8 MERCURY 89, #5 FEVER 78

Diana Taurasi scored 20 points while DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner added 18 apiece as the Mercury defeated the Fever. The loss marks the end of Tamika Catchings’ legendary career. The Mercury will face the Liberty in Round 2.


#6 DREAM 94, #7 STORM 85

Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry turned in one of her finest Playoff performances, leading the Dream with 37 points and seven assists to lead a second half rally. The Storm were led by Jewell Loyd’s 24 points and Breanna Stewart’s 19 points and seven rebounds. The Dream will face the Sky in Round 2.