Home-court advantage has already helped the Connecticut Sun take control of their semifinal series with the Los Angeles Sparks. Now, it's up to the Sparks to continue their impressive home winning streak to stay alive.
However, Los Angeles must do so at a home away from home in Long Beach on Sunday, when it tries to avoid elimination in Game 3 against the visiting Sun.
Home floor was expected to be a factor in this series, considering Connecticut and Los Angeles tied for the best home marks in the WNBA at 15-2. The Sun won the first two games of the series by a combined 35 points, but were down 22-15 after one quarter before taking it to the Sparks for a 94-68 victory in Game 2 on Thursday.
Jonquel Jones, who 16 points in Game 1, scored 27 and pulled down 13 rebounds while Courtney Williams added 25 points as the Sun made 10 3-pointers for the game and held L.A. to 46 points after the first quarter. Connecticut also got 12 points and 13 rebounds from Alyssa Thomas to move one win from reaching the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2005.
"It's the playoffs, every point matters," Jones told the Hartford Courant. "Any opportunity you have to take a lead or even cut into a run, it matters."
Nneka Ogwumike had 18 points for the Sparks, but Candace Parker was held to just three Thursday. The Sparks went 4 of 15 from 3-point range and were severely out-rebounded 46-24.
"We weren't able to sustain the fight and energy it takes to win these games on the road," Los Angeles coach Derek Fisher said. "Credit (the Sun) for how hard they were able to play."
The Sparks have shown plenty of fight and energy while winning 15 straight at home, including 92-69 over Seattle in the second round of these playoffs. However, Los Angeles' regular home at Staples Center is booked Sunday, so Game 3 will be played further south at the Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State.
"Right now, at this time of the year, our home court at Staples is prioritized with the (Los Angeles) Kings and their preseason games. So that's how it is," said Ogwumike, who has totaled 38 points through the first two games.
Regardless where the Sparks have to play a home game this weekend, their backs are firmly against the wall and they must find a way to extend this series another day.
"It's important to view Game 3 as just Game 3," Fisher told The Los Angeles Times. "The results in Game 1 and 2 have no relevance to how you play in Game 3."
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