Sparks Beat Lynx in Game 3 of WNBA Finals Behind Nneka Ogwumike Double-Double

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2017

Los Angeles Sparks guard Chelsea Gray, second from right, shoots as Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson, left, guard Jia Perkins, second from left, and center Sylvia Fowles defend during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball finals game, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Sparks took a 2-1 series lead in the 2017 WNBA Finals with a 75-64 Game 3 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Nneka Ogwumike paced the Sparks with a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds). Odyssey Sims added 16 points, Chelsea Gray tallied 14 points and seven assists, and Candace Parker stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocks.

Maya Moore came alive in the second half for the Lynx with all 16 of her points coming after the break, but it wasn't enough. Sylvia Fowles chipped in 15 points and 11 boards for Minnesota. The starting backcourt tandem of Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen failed to record a point in the loss.

Los Angeles nearly returned home with a chance to close out the series. After winning Game 1, its ferocious second-half comeback in Game 2 fell just short due to a pair of turnovers inside the final 20 seconds, allowing Minnesota to escape with a two-point win.

Parker told Dan Fleser of the Knoxville News Sentinel how a piece of advice from Pat Summitt, her legendary head coach at the University of Tennessee, became her rallying cry after the team let the chance to take a commanding lead slip away Tuesday night.

"You can't get too high with winning or too low with losing," she said.

Parker and the Sparks came out flying in Game 3. They used some textbook ball movement to create open looks throughout the first quarter to build a quick 17-8 lead.

Ogwumike led the early charge, as the WNBA highlighted:


End of 1 in Game 3 with the @LA_Sparks leading the @minnesotalynx 17-8! @Nnemkadi30 leads all scorers with 6 #WNBAFinals https://t.co/u9bmgcTPJ7

The Lynx managed to trim the lead to six before halftime, but the manner in which they did it came as surprise. Several of the big-name players struggled to find an offensive rhythm, leaving sixth woman Renee Montgomery to provide a crucial spark off the bench with 10 points.

Former Sacramento Monarchs guard Ticha Penicheiro commented on the makeshift offense from Minnesota to keep the game competitive:

Ticha Penicheiro @TichaPenicheiro

If u told me that Moore, Augustus and Whalen were scoreless in the first half and Minny would be down by only 6....I would have been like 🤥

A back-and-forth third period sent Los Angeles into the final quarter with an eight-point edge.

The Lynx responded with a 7-0 run to open the fourth to create a third straight dramatic finish.

Minnesota went ice cold from the offensive end after fighting back within one, though. It went nearly five-and-a-half minutes without scoring after making it 58-57 with 6:57 to play. That allowed the Sparks to pull away and pick up the win on their home floor.

The WNBA spotlighted some of L.A.'s strong defense during the Lynx's drought:


"Get. That. Outta here." @Candace_Parker with a HUGE rejection! #WNBAFinals https://t.co/UfMqRxn54X

Sparks owner Magic Johnson commented on the crucial win:

Earvin Magic Johnson @MagicJohnson

So proud of my @LA_Sparks for beating the MN Lynx 75-64 and going up 2-1 in the WNBA finals tonight.

Looking ahead, the Sparks will have an opportunity to capture their second consecutive WNBA championship Sunday night at Staples Center. A victory by the Lynx, however, will send the series back to Williams Arena in Minneapolis for a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday night.


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