Lynx 82, Sparks 67: Carleton’s perfect night from downtown secures the win

Lynx 82, Sparks 67: Carleton’s perfect night from downtown secures the win

In just eight days, the entire WNBA will go on a four-week break, which also includes the All-Star festivities and the Olympic basketball tournament. Minnesota Lynxlike many other teams, are looking forward to the break as their team leader, Napheesa Collier, is battling lingering plantar fasciitis and has missed her second consecutive game.

Speaking of injury problems: Los Angeles Lakers were without their prized rookie Cameron Brink, who tore his ACL three weeks ago, as well as key wingers Lexie Brown and Stephanie Talbot. Los Angeles has understandably struggled as they are in the midst of a complete rebuild and have lost nine of their last 10 games. Although they are only half a game off the bottom of the standings, it wasn’t long ago that the Lynx lost a game to a similarly injury-ridden team with the worst record in the league.

Would Cheryl Reeves’ team do their job tonight?

Minnesota Lynx vs Los Angeles Sparks

Photo by Jessie Alcheh/NBAE via Getty Images

The beginning Ceci leads a bank party

The Lynx had an advantage from the start. The league’s best defense showed its strength early, forcing Sparks to commit five turnovers in the first four minutes of play. As has been the case all season, it was their defense that helped their offense. Even when Los Angeles didn’t commit a turnover, they only converted 33.3% of their shots in the first quarter while Minnesota ran in transition.

About three minutes before the end of the opening phase, a unit played with Cecilia Zandalasini (11 p, 3 a; 2/3 3P) and Alissa Pili (7 P, 4 R) checked in and built a small six-point lead, which he extended to 15 with a series of brilliant plays. Minnesota was second in the league +/- (+3.0) in the first quarter and finished tonight at +13 thanks to a 14-point first-quarter performance from the bench.

The middle Juhász with the juice

Former Minnesota Lynx starting point guard Layshia Clarendon went on a quick 4-0 run of her own to spur her team on. Her leading scorer, Dearica Hamby (18 p, 8 r, 2 a; 7/9 fg) and freshly activated Azura Stevens (9 P, 6 R, 4 A, 2 B), followed with a pair of three-pointers, which reduced the Lynx lead to just five points. It looked a bit dangerous for Minnesota until Dorka Juhasz (15 P, 6 R, 2 A, 2 B; 7/11 FG) reported in the chat.

Just like Clarendon did earlier in the quarter, that huge defense from Juhász spurred her team on, and she followed it up with a point of her own in the zone before Lynx completed a 10-0 run with back-to-back threes to take a 16-point lead that put the game almost out of reach.

The end Carleton is for Closers

Cheryl Reeves’ team continued to apply pressure on defense. Just like at the beginning of the first half, they forced three quick turnovers from Sparks at the start of the second half before an avalanche of three-pointers buried the home team. The leader of the pack was none other than Bridget Carlton (15 P, 4 R, 3 A; 6/7 FG), who shot a perfect 4/4 from the three-point line.

A 19-point lead in the final quarter was enough for the Lynx to win undramatically from start to finish. There was a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter where Minnesota didn’t score and Los Angeles kept closing in. Fortunately for the Lynx, despite a less than stellar stretch, the lead never got closer than 14 points.

Much like Minnesota’s game on Saturday, they walked away with another win against a bottom-of-the-table team. They dominated the game for about 30 minutes and we got to see the Lynx flex their bench muscles, along with some fun highlights.

The Lynx are now 1.5 games out of the top spot in the league and have a 1.5-game lead at the top of the Western Conference. The second-place (Storm) and third-place (Aces) teams in the West will face off tomorrow while Minnesota rests.

Game highlights


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The Lynx will take a three-hour flight north to face their conference opponents, the Seattle Storm At Friday, 12.7. at 9:00 p.m. CT. Although Minnesota has won all three of its meetings with Seattle this year, the Storm are still hot on their heels in the race for the top spot in the West. They are at the end of a long nine-game home series in which they have already won five of six games and will be at a rest disadvantage on Friday.

Friday’s game will be the Lynx’s last road game before the All-Star/Olympic break. They have two more games at Target Center next week to close out the first half of the season.