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.
The Minnesota Lynx became the second WNBA team to win four titles Wednesday, repeatedly stunting the Sparks' efforts to rally. Led by Maya Moore's 18 points and Sylvia Fowles 20 rebounds, the Lynx defeated the Sparks, 85-76, in a decisive Game 5 at the University of Minnesota's raucous Williams Arena. Playing catch-up the entire game was a wearing effort even though the Sparks mounted a furious comeback, cutting a 12-point deficit to 79-76 in the final minute on Odyssey Sims' steal, layup and free throw. But ultimate glory was denied as Moore made a field goal in the key and Fowles collected her 20th rebound on Sims' missed three-pointer. Hurting the Sparks' effort was the fact they made only two of 18 three-pointers.
Candace Parker scored 24 points, Nneka Ogwumike added 21, and the Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx, 92-75, on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. The Sparks could win their first league championship since 2002 with a victory in Game 4 on Sunday. They built a 22-point advantage in the opening quarter when the Sparks shot 60 percent in the game played at Galen Center on the Southern California campus, down the street from their home court at Staples Center. Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles led Minnesota with 14 points each. Lindsay Whalen added 11, and Maya Moore had nine points and seven rebounds.
The game to decide the 21st WNBA champion features two teams so evenly matched and knowledgeable of each other that Sparks guard Alana Beard says there's no reason to even feign the concealment of a secret victory plan. "Absolutely not, there is nothing you can change at this point," Beard, the WNBA's defensive player of the year, said Tuesday. "It's about how much you want it and how hungry you are to get what you really want." The Sparks return to Minnesota, where they beat the Lynx in Game 5 of last year's WNBA Finals, on Wednesday night (5 p.m., ESPN). In their 12 meetings dating to Game 1 of last year's Finals, the Sparks and Lynx each have scored 908 points with four games decided by two points or less.