LA Sparks Snap Losing Streak, Defeat Lynx 96-90
What: The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 96-90.
Where: STAPLES Center—Los Angeles
When: Sunday, July 5, 2012 (Tip off: 12 p.m.)
How: Kristi Toliver came off a scoreless game to match a career-high 29 points on 8-13 field goals and 6-6 from three-point range. Along with Candace Parker, who scored 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, the powerhouse duo accounted for 22 of the team’s 24 first-quarter points. The Sparks would continue to dominate through the third quarter, where they outscored the Lynx 26-14 and collected twice as many rebounds (12-6).
But Minnesota wouldn’t go down without a fight. Seimone Augustus led her team in scoring with 18 points in her team’s quest to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time in more than a year. Despite trailing by 19 points with 6:54 left in the game, the resilient visitors staged a 15-2 run to close the gap to six points, 84-78. LA kept the Lynx at bay by knocking down free throws, with Parker making six and Toliver adding four from the line with less than two minutes left in the fourth. Six points was as close as the Lynx would get before they simply ran out of time.
1. The Minnesota Lynx lost two back-to-back games for the first time in more than a year.
2. Maya Moore made two three-pointers in the game’s final 5:08, but she fouled out with 1:59 left in the game.
3. The Sparks held a sizable advantage at the free-throw line, where they outshot the Lynx 82.4-52.9 percent. In fact, Parker attempted the same number of free throws (17) as the entire Minnesota team.
4. Each team made 50 percent of its first-half three-point attempts. But the Lynx cooled off in the third quarter, where they missed all five of their long-range attempts.
LA Sparks Head Coach Carol Ross:
On Minnesota's furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt:
“You’re not going to keep a champion down for four quarters - there was a rough part but they responded. They did some different things and we didn’t adjust as quickly as we could have, but I’m just really excited about how we bounced back and stood up.”
On corrections after a three-game losing streak:
“We wanted to come in and correct everything that we were doing poorly. Defending, rebounding, and executing better. I can think of 10 teams in this league that have had three game losing streaks—it happens. You play good teams, you play on the road and you play without practice. It hits all of us at times. You just have to remember what you do well and hide what you don’t do well.”
On Kristi Toliver’s big game:
“I’ve been pushing her hard and have been rough on her, and I think she just responds. Toliver is one that if you give her just enough fuel, she’ll try to prove you wrong. She shot the ball great. Defensively, she was tenacious and tough. Her shooting has never been an issue but there was some slippage there with her complete game, but I’m happy to see she played both ends pretty well.”
Sparks Guard Kristi Toliver
On her career-high scoring game:
“I just wanted to come out aggressive. I was pretty frustrated with myself and how I was playing in the last couple games. I just have been decisive about my decision-making today and just refocused on what I do best, which is shooting.”
On going from a scoreless game to a career-high:
“It’s completely crazy that I didn’t shoot the ball last game. That’s not who I am, and that’s not who I want to be. I just shifted that and showed everybody this is who I am and this is what I do. I’m back on track. It definitely helped having a week off and having coaches in your ear telling you what you need to do.”
On the focus coming off a three-game losing streak:
“Defense. All defense. Everything we did this week in practice was defense oriented and we really got after it against one another and against practice squads. It was intense. Coach was very strict with us and in our face. I think it was great that we were able to respond in such a positive way.”
Sparks Forward Candace Parker
On what worked for the Sparks:
“Defensive intensity, I think we’re at our best when we play defense and obviously knocking down shots. It kind of helps the confidence when you’re getting steals on the other end. I think we brought a lot of toughness. Also, rest helps. We had a tough stretch playing every day, traveling, getting in late, and playing back to back. It is nice to be at home and regroup here.”
On being aggressive:
“The rest definitely helped. I think from a body standpoint, it was also mentally helpful to have some time to practice and get things done. To spend some time with the family is always nice and to be able to practice and mentally get back into it.”
Reach Staff Reporter Amanda Martinez here.