Sylvia Fowles scored 22 points and the Minnesota Lynx beat the Los Angeles Sparks 80-69 on Sunday night to force a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals.
Maya Moore and the Lynx will try for their fourth championship in seven years on Wednesday night at home. The Sparks won Game 5 at Minnesota last season to take the crown.
Candace Parker and the Sparks are hoping to become the league’s first repeat champion since Los Angeles in 2002.
For the second consecutive year, the Lynx found themselves down 2-1 on the Sparks’ court. And just like last season, Minnesota pushed the series to a winner-take-all game.
“Game 5 is going to be who wants it more,” Moore said.
Facing an end to their season, the Lynx were aggressive from the start, grabbing a lot of loose balls and dominating the glass. They trailed 10-8 before scoring 11 straight points in the first quarter.
The Lynx, who never led in Game 3, built as much as a 19-point lead in the third quarter. The Sparks rallied, but could never get closer than eight points late in the fourth quarter.
“We had to leave everything we had out there,” said Minnesota’s Rebekkah Brunson, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds. “Use my energy and hopefully they can feed off that.”
Odyssey Sims scored 18 points for the Sparks and Nneka Ogwumike added 17.
Minnesota dominated inside the paint with baskets and rebounds. Minnesota outrebounded the Sparks 48-28. The Sparks had outrebounded the Lynx in Game 3 and that was a point of emphasis for the team to be more physical inside.
“I just love the way we competed for 40 minutes,” said Moore. “Everybody was really locked in and trying to be the aggressor the whole time. We didn’t play a perfect game, but did enough to beat a really good Sparks team on the road.”
In the first quarter, Lynx point guard Lindsey Whalen used her arm in a chopping motion to foul Sims in transition. Whalen was called for a common foul but it was reviewed and upgraded to a Flagrant 1. Sims stayed down on the floor but was fine and would stay in the game. Still, that physical play seemed to set the tone for the Lynx, who were a different team than in a 75-64 loss two days earlier.
Actor Anthony Anderson, actress Vivica A. Fox, former WNBA player Tina Thompson and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti were at the game. … The Sparks went into their locker room during the national anthem in silent protest for the fourth consecutive game. … The Sparks missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the first quarter.
The Sparks travel to Minnesota for the deciding Game 5 of the WNBA Finals at Williams Arena on Wednesday.