The Los Angeles Sparks closed out an 89-85 win over the Minnesota Lynx behind Chelsea Gray’s fourth-quarter performance.
The Sparks and Lynx rivalry has given the league so many great moments throughout the years. In this match-up on Saturday afternoon, both teams did not disappoint.
Gray dominate in Minnesota
Gray’s eight-point fourth quarter performance helped catapult the visiting side to a huge victory.
Gray is notorious for hitting dagger shots against the Lynx. Her dominance down the stretch for the Sparks was nothing less.
On a jumper from Gray with 2:19 remaining, Los Angeles pulled away from Minnesota, going up 83-78. Lexie Brown’s three-pointer brought the Lynx within one 83-82 to put pressure on the Sparks with 1:11 remaining.
Thanks to Brown and Danielle Robinson, the Lynx were able to gain some ground to get past the Sparks, but not for long.
Gray’s late-game jumper gave the Sparks a four-point cushion with 8.5 seconds remaining to seal the win. Riquna Williams made both free throws to put the game away.
Gray finished the game with 21 points on 8-12 shots from the field and four assists.
It was a game of runs from the start. The Sparks, though, were able to have balanced scoring throughout the game.
Bench production key for the Sparks
Los Angeles also received well-needed production off the bench from Riquna Williams. Williams had 10 points early in the second quarter the Sparks. She led the Sparks in scoring with 25 points on 4-9 three-pointers, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Los Angeles went on a 12-2 run in the beginning minutes of the first quarter with Tierra Ruffin-Pratt providing points early. Ruffin-Pratt finished the first quarter with five points and finished with 17 points on 6-11 shots from the field, five assists, and one steal.
Despite finishing with five points on 2-6 shots from the field, Marina Mabrey was effective for the Sparks on the defensive end. She was able to disrupt Minnesota’s offense with three steals. Mabrey was great off the ball on offense too, as she was +11 on the floor and contributed three assists.
The Sparks held a 5-point lead at halftime and the lead was dwindled in the third quarter by the Lynx. As the Sparks tried to pull away, the Lynx chipped away at the deficit. Minnesota answered with a run that gave them a 51-50 edge over the Sparks following a three-pointer by Brown.
Chiney Ogwumike had 14 points and nine rebounds. Nneka Ogwumike was held scoreless for most of the game but finished with five points, two assists, and four steals.
This win for Los Angeles spoiled Minnesota’s celebration of Lindsay Whalen as the Lynx raised her number 13 jersey in the rafters in a pregame ceremony. Whalen was an integral player in the Lynx and Sparks’ battles in the postseason over the last few years.
In this win, Gray also reached 1500 career points. Los Angeles opens the season series with Minnesota 1-0 as this new chapter of their rivalry begins.
The Sparks move to 2-1 on their four-game road trip. They will play the Phoenix Mercury at Talking Stick Arena on June 14th at 7 p.m. PT.