Los Angeles – After a major roster overhaul in 2019 that included four new starters, the Lynx wound up right back where they were at the end of the 2018 regular season — with an 18-16 record and the No. 7 seed in the WNBA playoffs.
The Lynx lost 77-68 to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday at Staples Center, ending their five-game winning streak and sending them to Seattle on Wednesday for a win-or-go-home first-round WNBA playoff game.
“Los Angeles is a good defensive team, but we’ve got good shooters that are wide open and not making shots,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It unfortunately wasn’t our day, and a tough day for that to happen.”
A Lynx victory or a Seattle loss at Dallas on the final day of the regular season would have meant a home game at Target Center. But neither happened and the Storm jumped ahead of the Lynx to grab the sixth of the eight playoff seeds.
The Lynx and Seattle finished with the same record, but the Storm won the tiebreaker by winning the season series 3-1.
Last season the Lynx went one and done in the playoffs, losing at Los Angeles.
“We are going to see if we can win a hard road game,” Reeve said. “We need to play a lot better than we did today.”
The Lynx entered 2019 having to replace Maya Moore (took the season off), Rebekkah Brunson (concussion), Lindsay Whalen (retired) and Seimone Augustus (injured). Two other pieces, first-round draft pick Jessica Shepard and Karima Christmas-Kelly, played in only six games each because of injuries.
First-round draft pick Napheesa Collier became invaluable. One of four Lynx players to appear in all 34 games, she averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Odyssey Sims led the team in scoring (14.5) and assists (5.4) in her first season with the Lynx, and Sylvia Fowles led in rebounding (8.9) and field goal percentage (58.8).
On Sunday, Collier had 16 points and tied her career high with 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Damiris Dantas had a career-high nine assists.
But the Lynx never led in the second half against the Sparks (22-12), who finished 15-2 at Staples Center after winning their final 14 home games. Los Angeles, which shot 50.7% from the field, took the season series 3-0.
Sims’ struggles continued against her former team. She had 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting.
The Lynx will be in the playoffs for the ninth straight season, the longest active streak in the WNBA.