After a pair of 20-point wins to open the 2012-2013 season, the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx were pushed and hard by the Los Angeles Sparks before dominating the 4th quarter 26-14 for a 92-84 win.
The Lynx trailed 61-52 and 63-54 in the 3rd quarter when the rally began. Seimone Augustus scored 3 buckets in the final 4 minutes of the 3rd, while rookie Devereux Peters added a pair including a layup on a Seimone assist at 4 seconds to get the Lynx within 70-66.
Rebekkah Brunson scored 5 points in the 1st 2 minutes and change of the 4th period, and the Lynx led for the 1st time since 40-39. The lead then changed hands several times through 82-82 at 2;47 when Candace Wiggins and Seimone hit a pair of 3-pointers for an 88-82 Minnesota lead. Lindsay Whalen closed out the scoring for the Lynx with 4 FT.
The Lynx had had an awesome 1st quarter, starting out 7-0 and then breaking away from a 17-all tie. 5 different Lynx scored to make it 30-19 at the quarter break. L.A. roared back with a 28-14 2nd quarter edge as Candace Parker used her quickness to get open for a variety of layups and 10 2nd quarter points in all.
Parker and rookie Nneka Ogwumike gave the Sparks a big inside scoring edge with 43 total points between them. Lynx guards Augustus, Whalen, Wiggins and Monica Wright combined for 52 points on 20-of-37 shots to lead Minnesota. The Lynx shot 30-of-53 2-point FG (58 percent), and also won the possession game with +5 offensive boards and -1 turnover.
L.A. seemed at times to dominate inside but in the end the Lynx won the rebounding battle 30-27. Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 8, and Brunson and Mya Moore 7 each. Taj also led the Lynx with 4 assists and 2 blocked shots.
L.A. had had the Lynx on their heels for most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but the Lynx won, first, because they battled, they played hard every possession down the stretch. Secondly, they play wonderfully as a unit. Everybody is in constant motion, with and without the ball, and everybody plays defense like they mean it.
This game showed that the Lynx--or, more to the point, their fans--ought not to be thinking seriously about an undefeated season. Yet this was a game the Lynx certainly could have and probably should have lost. That they managed a W after trailing by 9 in the late going only solidifies their status as WNBA favorites.
Three Stars: Candace Parker 23 points 6 rebounds; Seimone Augustus 25 points; Kristi Tolliver 23 points 4 assists