Lynx even WNBA finals at a game apiece
MINNEAPOLIS -- Lindsay Whalen led the way with 14 points as the Minnesota Lynx evened the WNBA Finals at one game apiece, beating the Los Angeles Sparks 70-68 on Tuesday.
Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles each added 13 for the Lynx, who led by as many as 20 points and held off a late charge by the Sparks in the fourth quarter, sending the best-of-five series back to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.
After Candace Parker hit two free throws to get the Sparks within two points with 33 seconds left, Los Angeles regained possession with 13.1 seconds remaining with a chance to tie or go ahead. However, Chelsea Gray committed a turnover, ruining the Sparks' final chance.
The Sparks got 17 points from Parker and 15 from Gray. They head west with an opportunity to win the series on their home court after taking the series opener.
Fowles was the game's leading rebounder with 17, while Nneka Ogwumike was the top Sparks' rebounder with 13. Ogwumike added 11 points.
In stark contrast to their early struggles in Game 1, when Minnesota trailed by as many as 26 points in the opening quarter, the home team sprinted from the gate on Tuesday. While Los Angeles struggled offensively, shooting just 22 percent in the opening 10 minutes, the Lynx got the crowd roaring and led 28-10 after one.
The Sparks opened the second quarter with a 12-2 run and cut the Minnesota lead to single digits, but a timeout and a new sense of urgency by the Lynx led to a 45-26 lead by halftime.
Fowles had 10 first-half points to lead all scorers and matched it with 10 rebounds. Essence Carson paced the Sparks with seven points before halftime while Ogwumike was their leading rebounder with eight.
Minnesota led by as many as 20 in the third quarter but faced foul trouble when Moore was whistled for her fourth personal less than halfway through the quarter. With her on the bench, Los Angeles took advantage and went on a run to cut the Lynx's lead back 60-50 heading into the fourth.
NOTES: Williams Arena, which is the home of University of Minnesota men's and women's basketball, features a massive photo and banner honoring Lynx G Lindsay Whalen, who finished her college career as the Golden Gophers' all-time leading scorer. ... Team depth is what allows for unsung heroes to shine in the WNBA Finals, according to the Sparks' coach. "Against Minnesota, when you have to give so much attention to Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, then someone like Seimone Augustus can really hurt you," Brian Agler said prior to Game 2. "It's sort of similar because we have other good players around. When Minnesota is paying attention to Nneka (Ogwumike), Candace (Parker) and Odyssey (Sims) then Chelsea (Gray) gets some opportunities." ... As they had before Game 1, the Sparks left the court prior to the preforming of "The Star Spangled Banner." Some Lynx fans offered a chorus of boos for the Sparks when they left and again when they returned to the floor.