Sparks look to KO Lynx, win 2nd straight title

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Sparks will look to win their second straight championship when they host the Minnesota Lynx in Sunday's Game 4 of the WNBA Finals at Staples Center.

The Sparks lead the best-of-five series 2-1, and a win at home would mean the first back-to-back titles for a WNBA team since the Sparks did it in 2001 and 2002.

But the Lynx aren't ready to concede, hoping to force a Game 5 back in Minnesota.

"They were able to steal one at our place," said Lynx forward Maya Moore, "so we're going to try to steal one at theirs."

Moore scored 16 points in Game 3 despite going scoreless in the first half.

The series, marked by contentious first quarters, has been a grueling competition for both teams.

"I feel like we could come out and play a great game tomorrow and still not win," said Sparks coach Brian Agler. "That's how competitive this series is."

In Game 3, Los Angeles shut down key Lynx starters to win 75-64. Seimone Augustus went scoreless the entire game, a career first in playoff games. Lindsay Whalen, starting point guard for the Lynx, also failed to score and was limited to just 12 minutes on the court.

"I'm at a loss for explaining those things, to be honest," said Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve when asked about the lackluster performance from her starters. Reeve used a limited lineup for most of Game 3, relying heavily on reserves Renee Montgomery (12 points) and Jia Perkins (two points), who each played at least 26 minutes.

The small lineup put different pressure on the Sparks' defense, according to Agler.

"I don't know if they prefer to play that way," said Agler, "because that means they've got a lot of really good players sitting on the bench. But it does give them another option."

Sparks center Candace Parker felt the pressure, going scoreless in the first quarter before notching 13 points by the end of the game.

"We made them uncomfortable," said Parker, "and we tried to deal with the ways they made us uncomfortable. Their pressure definitely affects us."

Both teams expect a tight battle Sunday -- the Sparks for a championship title at home and the Lynx to extend their season by just one more game.

"Our season's on the line," said Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles. "Do we want to extend it to push this game back to 'The Barn' where we know we have a great chance of winning, or do we want to let it go?"
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