LA Sparks a win away from repeating as WNBA champs

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 01, 2017 01:57 PM
LA Sparks a win away from repeating as WNBA champs
Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker celebrates after the Minnesota Lynx turned over the ball during the second half in Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

By Jill Painter Lopez, Associated Press
 
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike was sporting a clear bandage under her eye Saturday. It wasn't hiding the five stitches she received after Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles used her arm to attempt track down a rebound in the fourth quarter in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

Ogwumike was quick to say Fowles didn't do it intentionally.

"I saw it happening and it was like a fumble and when she went to get it she kind of flung her arm," Ogwumike said. "It just kind of split the skin. But I think AB (Alana Beard) came up with the rebound."

It's easy for the Sparks to find silver linings. They dominated the boards en route to beating the Lynx 75-64 in Game 3 on Friday and they're now one win away from hoisting the WNBA Finals championship trophy Sunday at Staples Center.

The Sparks have plenty of experience given that they won last year and can become the first team since 2002 to win back-to-back titles.

"I think we have players that are competitors. We have players that know the way we want to play," Candace Parker said. "Look, I can tolerate just losing in terms of us beating beat, them beating us. We want to make sure it's what they're doing and not what we're doing in a game like this. We have to take care of what we can control.

"We can control how hard we rebound and how hard we play defensively, how we move offensively, the pace with which we play. That's what's important in this game, keeping both eyes on the journey."

The Sparks could envision hoisting that trophy with their fans — there was a sellout crowd of 13,500 Friday in Game 3 — and how nice that would feel. Last year, the Sparks won in Minnesota.

The Lynx face elimination but can force a Game 5 in Minnesota on Wednesday with a win. They were in a similar situation last year and forced a fifth game.

Fowles said she and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve had a one-on-one conversation Saturday morning.

"I think for the most part we respond well when our backs are against the wall," Fowles said. "I don't like those back-up-against-the-wall type of situations. Unfortunately, that's where we are at this point."

While the Sparks had a balanced offense, the Lynx backcourt struggled as Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen were both scoreless.

"I've got to be more aggressive," Augustus said. "I've got to get the ball. I can't shoot air. Our offense was very stagnant. Didn't execute the way we wanted to, so it created a lot of one-on-one situations for everything."

The Sparks believe they will play well in a closeout situation.

"I think we're a different team, even from the semifinals," Ogwumike said. "We've learned a lot along the way. We have experience, I guess you could say, in closing games out."

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