|6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CTNaN:� , September 29, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California Attendance: 13,500
Sparks win Game 3, open 2-1 lead in WNBA Finals
(TSX / STATS) -- LOS ANGELES -- In a series where first impressions matter, the Los Angeles Sparks have shown they can rise to the occasion.
Nneka Ogwumike and Odyssey Sims each scored 16 points to lead the Sparks to a 75-64 victory over the Minnesota Lynx in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Friday night at Staples Center.
The Sparks lead the best-of-five series 2-1.
Ogwumike also had 10 rebounds for the Sparks. Chelsea Gray scored 14 points and Candace Parker contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocked shots.
Maya Moore scored 16 points, making 6 of 9 shots from the field, to lead the Lynx despite getting into foul trouble and being held scoreless for the first half. Sylvia Fowles had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds while making 7 of 9 shots from the floor.
The series has been marked by strong first quarters by one of the teams. The winner of each game has been the team that led after the first quarter.
"Obviously, there's been a theme," Lynx guard Renee Montgomery said. "The team that punches first seems to set the tone for the game."
The Sparks established the early lead in Game 3 and ended the first quarter up 17-8.
Ogwumike scored the first six points for the Sparks and Los Angeles clamped down defensively on Minnesota in the first 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, foul trouble plagued both teams. Moore and Ogwumike were both hit with their third foul in the quarter.
"We're not going to hold Maya scoreless for the first half," said Parker. "I think fouls had a lot to do with it. When you pick up a couple of fouls, it kind of plays with your mind. You go in and out. The coach had to not play her as much."
The Lynx tried to chip away at the early deficit with a limited lineup. Lynx starting guard Lindsay Whalen played just 12 minutes, scoring no points, and Seimone Augustus played 25 minutes, also failing to score.
"Their small lineup caused us some problems, put a different kind of pressure on us," Sparks coach Brian Agler said.
Despite the new challenge for the Sparks, the Lynx still struggled to generate offense, shooting only 31 percent (9 of 29) from the field in the first half.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve described her team as having "an anemic offense that was not prepared for how hard the game was going to be."
The Sparks were more active.
"Our starters," Reeve said, "didn't compete in the way that we had hoped."
The Lynx did grab a quick six points after a Sparks timeout with back-to-back 3-pointers by Montgomery and Alexis Jones, but Los Angeles answered with a 17-foot pull-up jump shot by Sims and an 18-foot pullup jump shot by Gray.
The Sparks had six turnovers in the second quarter, and a total of 34 by the end of the game, but still led 32-26 at intermission.
The Lynx continued to battle, with Moore making a 16-foot pullup and Jones a 23-foot 3-point jumper to keep Minnesota within 56-48 by the end of the third quarter.
Moore's aggressiveness in the second half meant that by the fourth quarter the Lynx closed to within 58-57 with 6:56 left.
Her focus, she said, was on how she could contribute and "being aware of trying not to put myself in situations to commit fouls so I can stay out on the floor."
The Sparks were able to hold on in the final minutes to notch the win.
"Your good players have to make good plays, big plays" Agler said. "Tonight was our night."
The teams will face off Sunday evening at Staples Center for Game 4, with the Sparks in position to claim their second straight WNBA title.
NOTES: Lynx C Sylvia Fowles, the 2017 WNBA MVP, headlines the 2017 All-WNBA first team after receiving 39 of 40 votes. ... The Sparks had three players named to All-WNBA teams -- F/C Candace Parker on the first team, and F Nneka Ogwumike and G Chelsea Gray on the second team. ... Minnesota's 13 finals wins remain the most of any WNBA team, with Detroit and Phoenix following with 10 wins and the Sparks posting their ninth finals win on Sunday. ... Game 2 on Monday was the first Sparks loss since Aug. 13 in New York.
Updated September 30, 2017