Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sparks short Lynx for eighth consecutive time


Despite all the hype that surrounded the Minnesota Lynx following the WNBA Draft, when they selected Maya Moore with the first overall pick, the Lynx learned Friday night that their roster is still vulnerable.

Opening the season on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center, the Lynx squandered a 10-point lead in the third quarter, losing 82-74.

Going back to last season, the Lynx (0-1) have lost 10 games after leading by 10 points or more. Minnesota also continued its losing streak against Los Angeles (1-0), now losing their last eight games, with Los Angeles head coach Jennifer Gillom winning five against the team she commandeered when her head coaching career began in 2009.

Candace Parker had a sensational return for the Sparks after missing most of last season with a dislocated shoulder. Parker finished with a double-double, getting 19 points and 10 rebounds, including a driving lay-up with 1:09 left in the game that ultimately clinched a Sparks win. Tina Thompson added 15 points.

The Lynx had a 50-40 lead with 6:43 the third quarter following a Moore three-pointer, but the Sparks found their stroke behind the arc 16 seconds later.

Sparks guard Kristi Toliver ignited the perimeter offense before Noelle Quinn and rookie Jenna O'Hea assumed control, sinking six combined three-pointers in the second half. The Sparks led 59-57 to end the third quarter and did not trail after that, out-shooting the Lynx 47 percent to 41 percent for the game.

However, Moore's professional debut was perhaps the biggest story of the night as the WNBA began its 15th season. She scored 21 points on 7-of-17 from the floor, including four three-pointers, silencing any questions on her integration following two shaky preseason games against Indiana.

Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson started the season with a double-double after posting a career-high 12 a year ago, with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

The two teams meet again on Sunday when the Lynx host their home opener at Target Center.

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