Los Angeles holds off late rally by Lynx
MINNEAPOLIS—There was a reversal of fortunes for the Los Angeles Sparks' two stars this time in Minnesota.
Candace Parker picked up the slack during an off night for Nneka Ogwumike as Los Angeles had a big third quarter and held on late to beat the Minnesota Lynx 70-64 on Friday evening at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Ogwumike, who led Los Angeles with 27 points in the teams' first matchup on July 6, was held to three points, going 1 of 8 from the field.
With Ogwumike struggling, Parker shined, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Parker was held to two points in the July 6 loss.
Los Angeles, which led by 15 points early in the fourth quarter, held off a late rally by Minnesota that saw the lead shrink to three.
But Chelsea Gray, who led Los Angeles with 23 points, hit two crucial free throws with 14 seconds left to seal it.
After the Lynx made the first basket of the third quarter, Los Angeles outscored Minnesota 21-6 the rest of the quarter to take a 57-44 lead.
Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx, who are now 1-2 since losing point guard Lindsay Whelan to injury, with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Neither team led by more than six in the first half.
After an uneven first quarter, the Lynx raised their defensive intensity in the second quarter, repeatedly forcing the Sparks into desperation shots at the end of the shot clock.
But Parker had a big half to keep her team in it. The Los Angeles center led all scorers with 13 first-half points.
Despite the Sparks being outshot (53.6 percent-40.6 percent) and Ogwumike going scoreless, Los Angeles was even with Minnesota 36-36 at the break.
Fowles had nine points, five rebounds and two blocks in the first half for Minnesota.
With Whelan on the sideline, the Los Angeles guards came out aggressive to start the game.
The Sparks jumped out to a 12-6 lead before a 14-4 Lynx run. The teams were tied at 20 after the first quarter.
The second-place Sparks (19-7) now trail the Lynx (21-4) by 2 1/2 games.
It was just the second home loss for the Lynx this season.
Los Angeles has three games of a five-game road trip remaining. The team will be in New York to take on the Liberty on Sunday.
Minnesota travels to Seattle to face the Storm on Wednesday.
The Lynx and Sparks have one more regular-season matchup on Aug. 27 in Los Angeles.