MINNEAPOLIS – The Los Angeles Sparks opened up the 2018 WNBA season with a thrilling 77-76 victory over the defending champions Minnesota Lynx at the Target Center on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea Gray finished with 18 points but none was bigger than her final two, a layup in the lane as time expired, lifting the Sparks to victory in a rematch of the WNBA Finals from a year ago.
”I’m very proud of this team right now,” Gray said. ”We kind of set the tone for the season.”
The Sparks were led by Odessey Sims’ 21 points on 42 percent shooting. Nneka Ogwumike added 19 points and nine rebounds and Essense Carson chipped in 10 for Los Angeles, who played without Candace Parker. She would miss the game due to a minor back injury.
Minnesota was led by Lindsey Whalen’s 17 points as Maya Moore struggled, scoring 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Sylvia Fowles added 15 points and 12 rebounds but was held scoreless in the second half until the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles and Minnesota kept the game close going into the second half. That is when the Sparks used a 25-11 third quarter and in the final quarter, the Sparks took advantage of three key Lynx turnovers.
”We had so many players out there that had no idea what they were doing for whatever reason. Maybe they were tired. No idea,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said.
The Sparks are now 1-0 on the season and will return to the court on Tuesday when they take on the Indiana Fever (0-2) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 4 p.m. PST.