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Los Angeles takes 2-1 lead over Lynx in WNBA finals

LOS ANGELES--Candace Parker had 24 points and nine rebounds and Nneka Ogwumike added 21 points and nine rebounds as the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx 92-75 on Friday night in the WNBA Finals to take 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker (3) and Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (34) reach for a rebound in the second quarter of game three of the WNBA Finals. at Staples Center. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker (3) and Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (34) reach for a rebound in the second quarter of game three of the WNBA Finals. at Staples Center. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES-Candace Parker had 24 points and nine rebounds and Nneka Ogwumike added 21 points and nine rebounds as the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx 92-75 on Friday night in the WNBA Finals to take 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

The Sparks can close out the championship series on Sunday night at Staples Center. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. cDT.

The defending champion Lynx will try to force a deciding Game 5 in Minnesota on Oct. 20.

Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson led Minnesota with 14 points each. Maya Moore, who was averaging 23.2 points in the playoffs, managed only nine points.

Los Angeles, which lost by 19 points to the Lynx in Game 2, seemed determined to return the favor, leading by as much as 22 points in the first half before settling for a 48-40 halftime lead.

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The Lynx had to figure they had taken the Sparks' best shot considering Los Angeles, which shot 60 percent from the field in the first quarter by making 15 of 25 shots, saw that percentage slip slightly in the second and third quarters to 53.6 percent.

Nonetheless, the Sparks took a 70-58 lead into the fourth quarter.

Minnesota, which never led, got as close as 81-71 with 3:42 left. But a full-court pass from Parker to Ogwumike for a layup pushed the margin back to 87-71 with 2:12 remaining.

Both sides might have been feeling the importance of the game in the beginning. Ogwumike didn't score the game's first point until 8:59 left in the first quarter with a free throw.

Kristi Toliver followed with the first basket 30 seconds later. That seemed to relax Los Angeles, which then moved out to a 6-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Parker.

Fowles got Minnesota on the scoreboard at the seven-minute mark with a layup. But Los Angeles blew its lead up to 13-2 after an Alana Beard steal and a fast-break layup by Ogwumike.

Los Angeles increased the lead to 21-6 with 3:37 on the clock, forcing the Lynx to call their second timeout in the quarter. But the Sparks weren't slowed as another Beard steal and layup expanded the lead to 28-8 with 2:11 remaining.

When the first quarter ended, the Sparks were in charge, leading 32-17.

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But Seimone Augustus (five points) and Lindsey Whalen (six points) were starting to stir the Lynx offensively.

An offensive rebound and lay-in by Jantel Lavender had the Sparks pushing their lead back to 38-17 early in the second quarter.

While the biggest lead was 22, the Lynx began to chip away and cut the deficit to 48-40 by the end of the first half.

Ogwumike and Parker led Los Angeles with 15 points and 14 points, respectively, in the opening two quarters.

NOTES: On Friday, Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike and Lynx guard Maya Moore were named to the All-WNBA first team. Lynx center Sylvia Fowles was named to the second team. ... Friday was the Sparks' first WNBA championship home game since the 2003 season when they lost the final championship game to Detroit.

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