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Jun 4, 2024 7:13 pm

Lynx to test strong finishing kick in visit to Sparks

Napheesa Collier

With double-digit wins in four of their last five games, the Minnesota Lynx come into Wednesday’s Commissioner’s Cup contest against the host Los Angeles Sparks, who are trying to get on track early into the WNBA campaign.

On Sunday, Minnesota dominated the Dallas Wings in the second half for an 87-76 home win. The Lynx (6-2) outscored the Wings 48-38 after halftime, marking the third time in its last four wins that Minnesota overwhelmed its opponent coming out of the locker room.

The Lynx outpaced the New York Liberty in the second half by 13 points in an 84-67 win on May 25. They capped the performance by holding the Liberty to just nine fourth-quarter points. The next night, in a 92-79 win at Atlanta, Minnesota had a 41-32 advantage in the second half.

Napheesa Collier has averaged 21.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals per-game for the Lynx early into the season, but a variety of meaningful contributions have helped to fuel Minnesota’s strong finishes.

Olivia Epoupa’s four points, four steals and two assists off the bench against Dallas was “a momentum change,” Collier said in the postgame press conference.

“Defense is the key if you want to achieve great things,” Epoupa said. “We have high expectations as a team, so I try … to bring this energy.”

The Lynx head to Los Angeles allowing 77.4 points per game — third-fewest in the WNBA — to complement the league’s second-highest offensive output at 86.4 points. The resulting plus-nine point differential is third-best in the league.

The Sparks (2-6) aim to jumpstart the league’s third-lowest scoring offense at 77.3 points per game coming into Wednesday’s contest.

Los Angeles dropped its second straight decision, and fourth in the last five games, with an 87-68 setback on Sunday at Phoenix. The 68 points marked the Sparks’ season-low, and it was the third time in Los Angeles’ past four losses in which they notched 73 points or fewer.

“We’ve been in every game. We’re not really getting blown out,” said the Sparks’ Kia Nurse, whose 13.0 points per game are second to Dearica Hamby’s team-leading 20.9 points.

“We give (ourselves) opportunities, we’ve just gotten into some deep holes that (have) been hard to get out of.”

Before Sunday’s loss, and an 83-73 defeat Thursday at Chicago, Los Angeles dropped decisions of 84-83 to Dallas on May 26, 78-73 on May 24 to Indiana and 89-82 on May 18 at reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

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