Sparks attempt late comeback, but fall just short

Photo Credit: AP/Aaron Lavinsky

Of course, there are two sides to every championship series. There has to be a winner and a loser. And unlike last year when the Los Angeles Sparks got a taste of the thrill of victory over these same Minnesota Lynx, this year, they suffered the agony of defeat.

I mean, we’re sad. Obviously we lost. Glad everybody enjoyed the series. It was exciting. That’s all I’ve got. I think it was a good series.

–Candace Parker (19 points, 15 rebounds)

A lot of emphasis was put on the noticeable rebounding edge that the Lynx possessed. Minnesota out-rebounded the Sparks 46-29 including a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass. This rebounding advantage the Lynx had become even more pronounced when Nneka Ogwumike fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter.

Obviously it hurt not having her in the game. That hurt, honestly. But our start wasn’t as up to par as we wanted it to be, but we cut the lead and we got back in the game, and a couple calls didn’t go our way.

–Candace Parker

The experience was certainly memorable, even if it ended in defeat, for Nneka Ogwumike. After the game, she mentioned how playing on the road in a Game 5 is certainly better than the alternative.

Yeah, I always enjoy playing in front of a crowd. Always. It’s confusing when everyone says hostile environment. I mean, it’s not hostile in LA, but the gym was packed. So, I don’t feel like it’s hostile. I’d rather be playing here in front of these people than watching from my living room in Russia.

–Nneka Ogwumike

Ogwumike, before fouling out concluded with 11 points. Odyssey Sims finished with 14.

Chelsea Gray, who had 15 points and was a major factor in the Sparks’ comeback efforts in the fourth quarter did not mince words when expressing how much the defeat stung.

It hurts. It’s tough to talk about right now, but it’s hurting.

One of the key statistics the Sparks head coach Brian Agler will certainly look at is his team going only 2-for-18 from three-point range.

Yeah, we didn’t help ourselves there. I think you’ve got two teams that are sort of – do some things similar, but yet we also do things differently. We rely more on our quickness and our mobility where they rely a lot on their power and their structure, and so for us to play at the top of our game, we need to hit some perimeter shots.

Agler was also asked about last year and if the late comeback gave him or his team flashbacks to how last season’s Finals concluded.

We weren’t talking about last year, we were talking about what we needed to do then.

It is the second consecutive season of the league’s updated playoff format that has resulted in the WNBA’s top marquee teams squaring off for a championship. It just so happens the top two teams happen to be in the same conference. Said format has received Parker’s seal of approval even if this year’s championship round did not go as planned for Parker and her Sparks.

Obviously, this new format has been good for our league. I think it brought attention to things that we as players have to do better. I think it’s brought attention to – obviously five games, it’s good. I think people can get into the series. Yeah, I mean, It’s been good for the fans. It seemed like the WNBA wanted it to go five games, and they got it.

By: Akiem Bailum (@AkiemBailum on Twitter, Instagram)

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