Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com 359d

Lynx hold off Sparks to even WNBA Finals

WNBA, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx

MINNEAPOLIS -- After a crazy closing minute that saw both teams toss away chances with turnovers, the Minnesota Lynx held on for a 70-68 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Tuesday night.

The series is tied 1-1; the Sparks won the opener Sunday 85-84. The Sparks had a chance to tie or win Game 2, but Rebekkah Brunson knocked the ball away from Chelsea Gray, and Maya Moore picked it up. She advanced it to Lindsay Whalen, who ran out the clock.

The first half was pretty much the complete opposite of Sunday's Game 1, when the Sparks led by as many as 26 points. Tuesday, the Lynx got off to a great start, leading 28-10 after the first quarter and 45-26 at halftime.

Sparks stars Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, who averaged a combined 33 points in Los Angeles' first four playoff games, were stymied in the first half, going a combined 0 of 11 from the field. Ogwumike had the only points between the two, making three free throws.

Meanwhile, the Lynx got a big boost from point guard Whalen, who scored six of their first seven points. The Lynx shot 63.2 percent in the first quarter.

The Sparks' defense began to slow down the Lynx in the second quarter, when Minnesota outscored Los Angeles just 17-16 and shot 37.5 percent. But just as the Sparks had done to the Lynx in the opener, the big first-quarter lead was an important cushion.

In the third quarter, Parker (eight points) and Ogwumike (six) finally started to get going offensively, and the Lynx held just a 60-50 edge going into the fourth quarter after being outscored 24-15 in the third.

Parker finished as the Sparks' leading scorer with 17 points, and Gray had 15. But Essence Carson had nine points off the bench for the Sparks, and without her scoring, Los Angeles would have been in an even deeper hole in the first half.

Whalen led the Lynx with 14 points, and Sylvia Fowles had 13 points and a WNBA Finals-record 17 rebounds.

Brunson, who struggled in the opener, was on fire from the start Tuesday. She finished with 12 points and three rebounds, while doing a very good job defensively on Parker for most of the game.

The Lynx had the 36-29 edge on the boards, and that made a big difference in a game that, once again, came down to the final possession.

The best-of-five series shifts to Los Angeles. Game 3 is Friday (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) at Staples Center.

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