2:30 p.m. vs. Sparks • Ch. 5, 106.1-FM
Lynx hope for revenge against Sparks
Preview: The Lynx have used defense to win four of five games, tying them with Connecticut for the best record in the WNBA. They have kept four of five opponents at or under 40% shooting, including Thursday, when the Lynx held Phoenix to 36.8% shooting and 56 points, the fewest by a Minnesota opponent this season. The Sparks have started the season 2-2 while playing without star forward Candace Parker, who injured a hamstring during preseason. Top defender Alana Beard has missed all but one game with a leg injury. But one of those victories was against the Sun, one Connecticut avenged with an 89-77 victory over L.A. on Thursday.
Players to watch: Lynx G Lexie Brown had a career-high 12 points in Thursday’s win, including two clutch jumpers — one a three-pointer — in the fourth quarter. G Odyssey Sims, who will be playing against her former team for the first time this season, had 15 points Thursday; she has scored in double figures in four games. Sparks F/C Nneka Ogwumike is averaging 16.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. Her sister, F Chiney Ogwumike — acquired from the Sun during the offseason — is averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds. G Chelsea Gray is averaging 14.3 points and 4.5 assists.
Numbers: The Lynx are first in the league in three-point defense (26.1%), opponents rebounds (27.6) and in defensive rating (89.2). Minnesota is 4-0 when Sims scores in double figures. Rookie F Jessica Shepard was a team-best plus-7 Thursday, scoring seven points while tying for the team lead in rebounds (six) and assists (three). The Sparks won three of four regular-season games with the Lynx last season and eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs.
Injuries: Lynx G Seimone Augustus (knee surgery) and Karima Christmas-Kelly (personal) are out. Sparks F Candace Parker (hamstring) and Alana Beard (leg) are doubtful.