|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , September 26, 2017
Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota Attendance: 11,434
Lynx hold off Sparks to even WNBA Finals
(TSX / STATS) -- MINNEAPOLIS -- The WNBA Finals is heading to Los Angeles for the next two games, but it will be hard to match the drama the first two contests have produced.
On Tuesday it was Lindsay Whalen in the starring role, as she led the way with 14 points for the Minnesota Lynx while they evened the best-of-five at one game apiece, beating the Los Angeles Sparks 70-68.
Like in Game 1, it came down to the final possession.
After Candace Parker hit two free throws to get the Sparks within two points with 33 seconds left, Los Angeles regained possession with 13.1 seconds remaining with a chance to tie or go ahead. However, Chelsea Gray committed a turnover, ruining the Sparks' final chance.
Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles each added 13 points for the Lynx, who led by as many as 20 points and held off the late charge by the Sparks in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously the game wasn't perfect for us," Moore said. "There were some things we want to do better and be more consistent, but when it came down to it our defense won the game for us."
The Sparks got 17 points from Parker and 15 from Gray. They head west with an opportunity to win the series on their home court after taking the series opener.
Fowles was the game's leading rebounder with 17, while Nneka Ogwumike was the top Sparks' rebounder with 13. Ogwumike added 11 points.
"Now it's a three-game series, and we have home court advantage, but at the same time last year that meant nothing," Parker said.
The Sparks beat the Lynx in the 2016 Finals, winning Game 5 in Minnesota.
"We've proven it doesn't really matter where we play," Parker said. "It's going to be a difficult series, and that's our job, to make things as difficult as possible on them."
In stark contrast to their early struggles in Game 1, when Minnesota trailed by as many as 26 points in the opening quarter, the home team sprinted from the gate on Tuesday. While Los Angeles struggled offensively, shooting just 22 percent in the opening 10 minutes, the Lynx got the crowd roaring and led 28-10 after one.
The Sparks opened the second quarter with a 12-2 run and cut the Minnesota lead to single digits, but a timeout and a new sense of urgency by the Lynx led to a 45-26 lead by halftime.
"The outcome of the game had a lot to do with how Minnesota played, not so much about what we didn't do," said Sparks coach Brian Agler. "They set the tone early in the game. So we have to respond."
Fowles had 10 first-half points to lead all scorers and matched it with 10 rebounds. Essence Carson paced the Sparks with seven points before halftime while Ogwumike was their leading rebounder with eight.
Minnesota led by as many as 20 in the third quarter but faced foul trouble when Moore was whistled for her fourth personal less than halfway through the quarter. With her on the bench, Los Angeles took advantage and went on a run to cut the Lynx's lead to 60-50 heading into the fourth.
"These two teams, this is the way we like it I guess," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "We did so many things well, but these are two teams that are really tough-minded and allow their defense to generate offense, so you know whatever the lead is, it's not enough."
NOTES: Williams Arena, which is home of University of Minnesota men's and women's basketball, features a massive photo and banner honoring Lynx G Lindsay Whalen, who finished her college career as the Golden Gophers' all-time leading scorer. ... Team depth is what allows for unsung heroes to shine in the WNBA Finals, according to the Sparks' coach. "Against Minnesota, when you have to give so much attention to Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, then someone like Seimone Augustus can really hurt you," Brian Agler said prior to Game 2. "It's sort of similar because we have other good players around. When Minnesota is paying attention to Nneka (Ogwumike), Candace (Parker) and Odyssey (Sims) then Chelsea (Gray) gets some opportunities." ... As they had before Game 1, the Sparks left the court prior to the preforming of "The Star Spangled Banner." Some Lynx fans offered a chorus of boos for the Sparks when they left and again when they returned to the floor.
Updated September 26, 2017