Chelsea Gray’s Shot Lifts Los Angeles Sparks past Minnesota Lynx 77-76 in Finals Rematch
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — There was no better way for the WNBA to open its 22nd season than with another intense matchup between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx.
After the Lynx received their championship rings and raised a fourth banner in the arena, Chelsea Gray and the Sparks gave them their parting shot.
Gray had 18 points, including a double-clutch off-balance in the lane at the buzzer that gave the short-handed Sparks a 77-76 victory over the Lynx on Sunday in a dramatic rematch of last year's finals.
Lindsay Whalen had 10 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws with 5.8 seconds left, to lead the Lynx back from a deficit that reached 10 points late in the third period. Gray then took the ball after a timeout at the left wing, used a spin dribble to evade Seimone Augustus and reached the paint in time for the final heave.
The Sparks-Lynx title pairing was made possible in 2016 when the WNBA switched to a conference-less postseason format, and the Sparks won on Minnesota's home court that year. Last fall, the Lynx avenged that crushing loss by beating Los Angeles at Williams Arena, where Whalen played her college games, while Target Center was being renovated.
Over the previous two years, the Sparks and Lynx split their 16 matchups, with five wins apiece in the playoffs and three victories each in the regular season. This was the first time the Lynx lost a season opener since 2011, the year of their first title. They had won 23 straight regular-season games in May.
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