Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com 329d

Lynx, Sparks must be more consistent in Game 2

WNBA, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx

MINNEAPOLIS --Neither the Lynx nor the Sparks want to go on that wild ride again.

The WNBA Finals resume with Game 2 on Tuesday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET), and Sunday's 85-84 win for Los Angeles still has both teams feeling unsettled.

For Minnesota, falling behind 28-2 in the first quarter was a massive misfire that even on Monday, with time to think about it, the Lynx couldn't explain.

"I can't put it in perspective; I'm furious," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "I have not yet met with our team, but I'm looking for answers when I meet with them. Because I cannot wrap my mind around that performance in the first quarter."

It created a mammoth hole for the Lynx, yet they climbed out of it. Twice in the last minute, they took the lead.

That's what bothers the Sparks, although they still won their 11th consecutive game on Chelsea Gray's jump shot with 2 seconds left.

"We played, I would say, 5 minutes of great basketball," Los Angeles' Candace Parker said, referring to the way the Sparks started the game. "We won two quarters, and we lost two quarters.

"I feel like we can build off of that, but we have to learn to adjust when they do things differently. We had three starters going into halftime with 10 fouls collectively. We have to change the way we do things against their pressure."

Parker picked up her fourth foul in the second quarter.

"I got some stupid fouls, and I need to be smarter," she said. "That changed a little bit of how I could play and how aggressive I could be. I can't put myself or my team in that position. But it [also] can't take away from my aggression, and I can't be fearful of getting fouls."

Sparks coach Brian Agler said the Lynx "outplayed" his team for the last 32 minutes of the game.

"I'm not saying we laid an egg, but there was a sense of urgency that set in for them at some point, and they really came after us," Agler said. "I thought we didn't handle that, and we started playing the clock a little more than we did the opponent."

But there were positives for both teams in what turned into an entertaining game that got the best overnight rating ever for a WNBA Finals Game 1 broadcast on an ESPN-affiliated network (the game was on ABC).

For Los Angeles, Gray scored a career-high 27 points, and backcourt mate Odyssey Sims added 16. And the Sparks stayed close to the Lynx on the boards -- a 35-34 Minnesota edge -- which is crucial against a team with rebounders the likes of Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson.

For Minnesota, Maya Moore played more minutes than usual at power forward as the Lynx went with a smaller lineup for long stretches as they fought to rally. And Moore had a big performance -- 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting -- which was especially good for the Lynx to see from her against the Sparks.

Moore was limited in the three regular-season matchups with Los Angeles, averaging 10.7 points on 38.7 percent shooting in those games.

"I would say the first two, Maya wasn't really there yet, playing like Maya," Reeve said of the July 6 and Aug. 11 games against the Sparks. "The third one [Aug. 27] she was, but there wasn't a breakthrough there.

"But we gained a lot of information from the Finals last year, and the three games this year against them. We have spent a lot of time prepping for this series. It was on our minds, because we need Maya Moore to score to win a championship. Maya has put a lot of work into it; she has studied a lot of video."

Moore said that what both teams are thinking is "try to make everything hard" for the other. The Sparks did that to the Lynx for a lot of that first quarter, but it didn't stay that way.

"Basketball is one of those games where teams can go on runs, but that doesn't mean the game is over," Moore said. "You have to stay focused; it's more of a mental battle. Keep playing and trying to claw your way back. You don't want to overanalyze it, but you have to think about it to make adjustments.

"The Sparks went out and made shots and executed, and got deflections; they did what they needed to do. We'll continue to try to make sure we don't help them on those runs. It's going to be fun to have another opportunity to get going again [Tuesday]. At the end of the day, it was a one-point game, and I'm sure both teams are not really satisfied with several things that took place in the game."

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