Sparks beat Lynx 92-76 in playoff tuneup
LOS ANGELES — Candace Parker and rookie Nneka Ogwumike had 22 points and 11 rebounds each, and the Los Angeles Sparks tuned up for the playoffs with a 92-76 victory over the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night.
Alana Beard added 13 points and Kristi Toliver had 10 points and eight assists for the Sparks (24-10), who ended the regular season with their fourth straight win while splitting the four-game season series with the Lynx in front of Clippers teammates Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan. It was the biggest margin of victory by either team in their meetings this season.
Monica Wright scored 19 points, and Devereaux Peters added 17 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota (26-6), which had won six of its last seven games against the Sparks but fell to 3-19 all-time at Staples Center. Maya Moore had 13 points as the Lynx shot a season-low 35 percent.
The Sparks finished 16-1 at home and outscored opponents by double-digits during the regular season under first-year coach Carol Ross. They open the playoffs at home against San Antonio on Sept. 27.
The Lynx played without starting guard Lindsay Whalen, who didn't dress because of a cold. The West's top seed has two more games left before starting the playoffs.
Los Angeles outscored the Lynx 52-24 in the paint and was 15 of 19 from the free throw line in the game. The Sparks cruised through the fourth quarter after building a 21-point lead in the third.
The Sparks opened the third on a 13-0 run, with Beard scoring six points and Parker five. The Lynx hit three 3-pointers in the quarter, but trailed 74-55 heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Sparks led by 14 in the first half.
Parker scored 14 points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter, and Ogwumike had 12 in the half. Los Angeles opened the game on a 20-9 run, led by Parker with seven and Ogwumike with six.
The Lynx were limited to 15 points in the opening quarter, and they were 1 of 15 from the 3-point line in the half.