“We didn’t play very well, we didn’t defend," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after her team lost 92-76 at Los Angeles on Thursday. "They came out and they did what they wanted.
"[Candace] Parker and [Nneka} Ogwumike played great, and we provided very low resistance to what they were doing. We couldn’t make a shot at times. They got separated early on, and we played behind the whole time, and we couldn’t catch up.”
The Lynx shot a season-low 34.8 percent.
Lynx guard Seimone Augustus had her second bad shooting night in a row. She has 3 for 11 in consecutive games since missing three games with a sprained foot.
But she remains confident for the playoffs. “We’re definitely going to take it to the next level," Augustus said. "[Thursday's] not an inclination of the level we want to play at, but we have some more time to prepare for the playoffs. We’re going to come out better than we did tonight. We are going to come out defensively more aggressively than we did tonight.”
LA dominated the start of the game and of the second half. The Sparks took a 13-2 lead in the first quarter and went on a 13-0 run in the third quarter to expand an eight-ponit halftime lead to 57-36.
Asked about possibly playing the Sparks in the Western Conference finals, Augustus said, “That would be awesome… awesome.
“[Parker ] ss a tough guard for other people because of her height and her size. She can shoot from anywhere, she can handle the ball. She is a lethal weapon. It’s difficult for any team. We haven’t found anyone to stop her, but God bless a team that can. I hope to see them in the Western Conference.”
L.A. coach Carol Ross hopes so, too.
“I think we’re in a good place, but playoffs aren’t built for good, they’re built for great," Ross said. "We aren’t great yet. We’ve knocked on the door to greatness a few times, but we keep slamming our finger in it. We’ve been there but we just haven’t sustained it, so we have to look at good and try to build on it and stay focused, and find the ability to play that way for 40 minutes.”
"We accomplished our mission which was to position ourselves to compete for a championship, we’re one of eight teams that gets the privilege for postseason.”
Thursday's win gave L.A. a 2-2 record against the Lynx this season. “Games like this you have to set the tone early," Ross said. "We really worked to establish ourselves from the beginning aggressively.”
Parker and Nneka Ogwumike were especially effective. Both had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“It’s an evolution [with them], but happened fairly quickly," Ross said. "They complement each other very differently, but they end up in similar places. They’re able to use double-doubles, and are both high energy on both ends of the floor. Nneka probably has more power, Candace has more finesse, so it’s a good 1-2 punch.”
Sparks veteran DeLisha Milton-Jones likes L.A.'s playoff chances. “This city won’t expect anything but a win," she said. "This year we’ve shown glimpses of the team that we used to be in the championship runs back in the day. It’s a matter of us kicking the door down when playoffs start, solidify us as a force and not get booted out of first round."
The Sparks play San Antonio in their opening playoff series.
"We have to go with a sense of urgency; our sights are set a lot further than the first or second round," Milton-Jones said. "We want to get to finals, haven’t been in a long time, and definitely are long overdue for getting back there. We have the necessary pieces. We may not look like a conventional team, but we’ve done a great job working with what we have.
“We aren’t making the same mistakes we did earlier this season. We are gelling together even tighter, and it allows us to allow defense. And if we can dominate on both ends of the floor we have a very good chance.”