Sparks lose to Lynx after blowing late double-digit lead

The Sparks had an 11-point lead with 3:38 left in regulation but lost to the Minnesota Lynx, 91-86.

The Sparks had another heartbreaker.

It felt like they had the game in hand. And then suddenly, the Lynx caught fire. The fire was never put out and they were able to steal the game from the Sparks, 91-86.

The Lynx got off to a good 18-9 start before the Sparks’ veteran acquisitions Jasmine Thomas and Azurá Stevens made back-to-back buckets. They were able to cut the deficit to 22-20 after one.

Lexie Brown caught fire in the second half as she supplemented Nneka Ogwumike’s inside game with her perimeter shooting. Nneka split her foul shots near the end of the half and the game ended up being tied at 43 after 20 minutes.

Jordin Canada wreaked havoc on both sides of the ball. Napheesa Collier was able to keep it close but Canada’s 12 points in the third put the Sparks ahead entering the fourth, 64-62.

And as mentioned earlier, it felt like the Sparks were going to run away with the game like they did at home against the Sky. The Sparks scored 9 straight, which was topped off by Lexie Brown’s three, to make it an 83-72 lead with 3:38 left.

Then the Lynx went off. Rachel Banham made a three. Nikolina Milic sank a lay-up. After four Collier free throws, Bridget Carleton made back-to-back threes to give the Lynx an 87-83 lead. Two Tiffany Mitchell free throws made it a backbreaking 17-0 run.

While Nneka Ogwumike made a three to cut the lead in half, the Sparks had too little time and no more timeouts. The difficult foul game was unsuccessful and the Lynx went on to win their second game of the season.

That… was not great.

The Sparks always seem to be in the game. And they get a finishing kick to take the victory. That hasn’t happened in the last two road games. The Sparks had a 21-point lead in the second quarter against Seattle. They ended up losing the lead and, eventually, the game. And on Sunday, they blew an 11-point lead with under four minutes to go.

Like I said, the Sparks don’t look like they panic. But this time around, it almost felt like they were playing not to lose. They turned the ball over four times in that Lynx comeback. And they just didn’t get any good shots off; probably should’ve gone back inside to Nneka. But give the Lynx credit for sticking with it and making that phenomenal comeback. The Lynx also stayed in it by taking care of the ball. The Sparks had fewer turnovers in the game but, again, that last stanza was not good. Minnesota also had 12 more rebounds than the Sparks; the hustle there was evident.

Nneka Ogwumike had 27 points and 8 boards for L.A. so her consecutive double-double streak stops at four games. Lexie Brown scored 21 while Jordin Canada put in 12 of her 18 points in the third quarter. Canada also had 8 assists and three steals.

Napheesa Collier ended with 24-9-6 along with three steals. Tiffany Mitchell supplemented the team with 17 points while Jessica Shepard scored 8 and grabbed 13 boards. Shepard was big on getting those rebounds.

In the injury front, Layshia Clarendon will be out with a foot injury for 4-6 weeks. Speedy recovery to them.

In the meantime, the Sparks will move on to Dallas for the second of their mini two-game road trip. It might be early but these two losses against the 1-6 Seattle Storm and 2-7 Minnesota Lynx might come back to haunt them on their push to the postseason.