Lynx and Sparks: Scoring machines collide in playoffs

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 4, 2012 - 4:25 PM

The Lynx and Sparks fill up the basket, so defense might decide which team goes to the WNBA Finals.

Roll out the red carpet. WNBA royalty is coming to Target Center.

The Los Angeles Sparks are in town to play the Lynx on Thursday in the first game of the best-of-three Western Conference finals.

The Sparks finished second to the Lynx in the West, three games back, but they are the most decorated team in the league.

Even WNBA.com gushes about L.A. Early this season the league's website called the Sparks "easily the most exciting team to watch" in its weekly power ratings.

For sure, the Sparks have star power.

Any L.A. scouting report starts with 6-4 Candace Parker. She was the league MVP and rookie of the year in 2008. Since then, the birth of her daughter, Lailaa, and shoulder and knee injuries have kept her from playing a full season until this year.

A healthy Parker was the player of the month in the West four times out of a possible five -- teammate Kristi Toliver won the award in August -- and player of the week five times. She finished second in the MVP voting to Connecticut center Tina Charles and is a cinch to make the all-WNBA first team when it is announced.

"She is not a player that one person can stop individually," Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said. "We are going to have to do it as a team. Give each other help. There will be plenty of people on her. We will try to wear her down and do what we can to limit her touches."

Parker watched the Lynx beat Seattle on Tuesday night on her home TV. "Minnesota is a team that we definitely have to block out," Parker said. "Their second-chance points really hurt Seattle. We have to get those 50-50 balls. And we have to have a little bit of luck on our side. That's what it takes in the postseason -- everybody brings their best."

If that happens, the Lynx could be in trouble. Parker is surrounded by talented players, such as:

• Toliver, the Sparks' point guard, was recently named the league's most improved player. In her fourth pro season, the deadly three-point shooter averaged a team-leading 17.5 points -- one-tenth of a point more than Parker -- 4.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, all career highs. "The thing that is most overlooked about Toliver," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, "because she shoots the three so well, is that she gets to the free-throw line the most on the team."

• Inside with Parker is 6-2 forward Nneka Ogwumike, a virtual lock for the rookie of the year. The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft out of Stanford averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds. She was named rookie of the month four times.

• Alana Beard is the other guard. Lynx assistant Jim Petersen said Beard was the Sparks' MVP the second half of the season. She was a four-time All-Star and five-time member of the all-league defensive team playing in Washington. Now she has been reborn on the other coast after missing the past two seasons because of foot injuries.

• The fifth L.A. starter is 6-1 forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, a link to the Sparks' glory days. Milton-Jones played on L.A.'s championship teams in 2001 and '02 and is the second- leading scorer in team history. She is in the top 10 in WNBA history in points, rebounds, steals and games played. This is her 14th season; she has played in two All-Star games and seen it all.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to stop L.A.," Reeve said. "We know that can be the separator, our defense.

"Both teams rebound the ball really well. Both teams like to fastbreak. A lot of similarities. Everything [with the Lynx and Sparks in statistical rankings] is one and two on the offensive side of things. So we've got to be really good defensively."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 43 3rd Qtr
New Orleans 52
Minnesota 40 3rd Qtr
Oklahoma City 48
Orlando 48 3rd Qtr
Memphis 67
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 31 2nd Half 8:20
Bethune-Cookman 33
Coppin State 47 2nd Half 15:02
NC A&T 52
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 48 2nd Half 5:23
SC State 51
Gardner-Webb 35 2nd Half 16:00
Campbell 46
MD-Eastern Shore 29 1st Half 3:45
Florida A&M 25
Stephen F Austin 48 2nd Half 19:27
Lamar 29
Central Arkansas 33 2nd Half 20:00
New Orleans 50
Norfolk State 39 2nd Half 15:48
Savannah State 29
TX A&M-CC 31 2nd Half 20:00
SE Louisiana 32
Sam Houston St 45 2nd Half
Abilene Christian 25
McNeese State 63 2nd Half 12:00
Incarnate Word 53
Milwaukee 32 2nd Half 12:40
Valparaiso 53
Alcorn State 4 1st Half 16:20
Alabama A&M 9
Southern U 9 1st Half 15:45
Alabama State 4
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 2 1st Half 15:56
Iowa State 10
Texas Southern 15 1st Half 11:28
Miss Valley St 13
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 6 1st Half 15:04
Auburn 1
(15) Nebraska 10 1st Half 15:07
(20) Iowa 3
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close