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Sparks top Lynx in battle of the WNBA’s best

By in Press Enterprise on August 28, 2017

By Mike Guardabascio

LOS ANGELES >> Sparks coach Brian Agler has maintained all year that he coaches a defensive team. While the offensive fireworks of Candace Parker and Nneke Ogwumike — both among the WNBA’s top 10 scorers — might distract from that fact, it’s still defense that the Sparks rely on in big games. It was that effort that led them to a decisive win in a clash of the league’s two top teams Sunday evening, as they defeated the visiting Minnesota Lynx 78-67.

The Sparks (24-8) led the Lynx (24-7) by double digits for most of the game, which was a rematch of last year’s WNBA Finals. That’s thanks in large part to the defensive job the Sparks did, holding the Lynx 18 points below their season average and forcing 18 turnovers, which created 24 points, most of them off of breakaway layups.

“Both of our game plans defensively, theirs and ours, were probably pretty similar,” said Agler. “They’re a great team and they’ve been on the road a while, they looked a little tired.”

The defensive effort was highlighted by the performance of Alana Beard, as good an on-ball defensive player as there is in the league. Beard’s primary assignment was Maya Moore, who’s eighth in scoring in the WNBA, averaging over 17 points per game. Beard held her to 10 points on Sunday on 4-for-11 shooting.

“(Alana) makes so many plays on and off the ball,” said Agler. “She probably helped herself in becoming Defensive Player of the Year tonight on national television.”

The game had an announced attendance of 19,282, officially a sellout at Staples Center. The national audience on ESPN2 and the big crowd were a point of discussion for Agler and his players after the game.

“Tonight was packed, it was an exciting time for women’s basketball,” said Parker. “We don’t take […]    

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