LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Los Angeles Sparks used a big second quarter and a career night from Alexis Jones to win their ninth straight home game, 81-71 over the Minnesota Lynx. Jones scored a career-high 15 points against her former team, all in the first half, to help the Sparks build a 17-point halftime lead. Candace Parker – who notched her third double-double of the season – finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Sparks remain in fourth place in the league standings.
Both the Sparks and the Lynx came up empty-handed in each of their first three offensive possessions. Minnesota got on the board first, but back-to-back buckets from Parker gave Los Angeles an early 6-5 lead. The two teams exchanged baskets as the first quarter saw five lead changes, and no team led by more than four points.
The Sparks shot just 5-of-16 from the field in the first period, but got to the charity stripe 10 times to hold onto a 18-14 lead at the end of the quarter. In the second frame, Alexis Jones scored on a driving layup, followed by a 3-pointer after Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier knocked down back-to-back shots.
Los Angeles bounced back from its slow first-quarter start by shooting a red hot 72.2% from the field in the second. The Sparks – who went 13-of-18 from the field in the frame including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc – ended the quarter on a 22-9 run. Led by Jones, the Sparks bench erupted for 26 first-half points to give Los Angeles a 49-32 cushion at the break.
In the third quarter, the Sparks held the Lynx to just two points for nearly five minutes, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who logged a +18 plus-minus in 16 minutes of action.
The Sparks continued their sharp-shooting with back-to-back 3-pointers from Chelsea Gray and a backdoor layup by Sydney Wiese to spark a 15-2 Los Angeles run. Parker drained a left-handed floater midway through the period to give Los Angeles a 30-point lead, its largest of the game.
Minnesota chipped away in the final quarter with a 20-6 run, cutting Los Angeles’ lead to as few as seven points after a layup by Collier with 52 seconds to go in the contest. But an and-one by Gray – who finished with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists – iced the game.