Neither team expects a repeat in Game 2 on Sunday when the series shifts to Staples Center.
The defending champion Lynx are one win away from a return trip to the WNBA finals after Thursday’s easy 94-77 home victory over the Sparks. Maya Moore scored 20, Seimone Augustus added 16 and Rebekkah Brunson had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which outhustled Los Angeles in a number of areas.
The Lynx had a 37-25 rebounding edge - including 13-4 on the offensive end - and outscored the Sparks 46-34 in the paint while holding a 20-2 advantage in second-chance points.
“Don’t be fooled by what we did,” said Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who had six points and four rebounds. “L.A. is a great team. They’re going to make changes, start attacking, doing a lot of great things that made them successful during the regular season.
“And we’re going to have to be even better than we were (Thursday). We have to forget this game. It was great, but we have to forget it and act like this next game is the first game.”
The Sparks would also like to forget about Game 1.
Candace Parker had 25 points and 11 rebounds, but only one other Los Angeles player had more than two boards - reserve Nicky Anosike with four. Kristi Toliver, who averaged a team-best 17.5 points in the regular season and 26.0 points in the conference semifinals, scored 12. Ten of those came in the final 5:37 when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
“One thing I know about Kristi is that she’ll come back stronger in the next game,” said Parker, who is averaging 27.3 points in the playoffs.
Returning to Southern California should give Toliver and her teammates an edge.
The Sparks went 16-1 at Staples Center in the regular season, which includes two victories over the Lynx. They are 21-4 all-time against Minnesota in Los Angeles.
“You’re at home, you play looser, you’re happy,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “You slept in your own bed. You come out to your home fans.”
In the Sparks’ regular-season finale 2 1/2 weeks ago, Parker and rookie Nneka Ogwumike each had 22 points and 11 rebounds in an 92-76 home win over the Lynx.
Ogwumike, who averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the regular season, was hounded by the 42-year-old McWilliams-Franklin in the opener, however, and was limited to six points and two boards.
Los Angeles forward DeLisha Milton-Jones doesn’t see that happening again.
“What you can expect on Sunday is a better showing by the Sparks,” Milton-Jones told the Lynx’s official website. “We’re definitely going to be a much more mentally prepared team.”
If necessary, Game 3 would be Wednesday at the Target Center, where the Lynx are 19-1.
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