It was over before it even started.
The Los Angeles Sparks deliver what was essentially a first quarter knockout, leading all the way to complete a 92-75 rout of the Minnesota Lynx in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.
“I felt like the first quarter was the gut punch,” said league MVP Nneka Ogwumike. “We didn’t want to give them any hope. I told Candace at halftime, they get no leads this whole game.”
“Everybody across the board, we came out with a fight, we came out with a desire, we came out with a purpose and we didn’t do that in Game 2,” said Parker.
There were so many words being thrown around after the game to try to accurately describe the effort put forth by the Sparks to open Game 3 that it was as if a thesaurus was being passed around to the players and coaches so they wouldn’t say the same thing.
Whether you choose to go with relentless, persistent, aggressive, attacking or determined, you would be correct. The Sparks opened this game playing at as high a level as they had this season.
“Its nothing that we haven’t seen in the season, but I would say tonight is reminiscent of how our first 20 games were,” said Ogwumike. “The aggression is obscene at this point and we want to keep it that way.”
The Sparks hounded the Lynx on defense as they forced turnover after turnover to create easy transition opportunities on offense. And even when they had to settle into a half-court set, their mindset remained the same.
“We had a game plan of just going to the basket and trying to be aggressive,” said Parker.
In the first minute of the game, the Sparks constantly challenge Sylvia Fowles at the rim and the Defensive Player of the Year responded with three of her five blocked shots coming in the game’s first 59 seconds.
But the Sparks were not going to be denied. They were not going to be intimidated and settle for outside shots like they did in Game 2. They were going to continue to attack the basket and dictate the action on both ends of the floor.
“In the first quarter, it was just a relentless drive to the hole and often times you really can’t care about, ‘OK someone blocks your shot, just keep going,’” said Ogwumike. “You can’t let that deter you and I think we did a good job of understanding they were going to come out aggressively too and we didn’t really want anyone to get going.”