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Lynx claw their way past Sparks, advance to Conference Finals

Candace Parker tried to rally back after being held scoreless in the first quarter, but even after posting 28 points, it wasn't enough to give the Sparks a chance at the Western Conference finals. The Lynx put an end to the Sparks' season.

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

In what looked like it would be an easy win for Minnesota, who had a 14-point lead early on in the first half, the Lynx found themselves fighting to survive postseason play after the Sparks narrowed the gap to just one point in the fourth quarter. Minnesota figured out a way to wrap up the Western Conference semifinals with a 91-80 win over Los Angeles.

And while offensively the Lynx may have the league's leading scorer in the playoffs (Maya Moore), it was their defense that got them the win tonight holding the Sparks to just 10 points in the first quarter (the lowest scoring quarter they've had this year).

Los Angeles's two-time MVP, Candace Parker, was held scoreless in the first quarter, and it wasn't until late in the second quarter that Ana Dabovic was able to hit the team's first three-point shot.

Dobovic ended up with nine points and two rebounds but fouled out of the game prematurely. Parker was only 11-25 shooting and got called for a technical foul late in the fourth quarter that helped give the Lynx the momentum they needed to separate themselves from the Sparks.

Moore made both free throws from Parker's technical and scored 20 with eight rebounds, but regardless of the fact that the 2014 MVP has carried Minnesota in postseason play putting up 60 points in the first two games.

Moore acknowledged that the Lynx have to play well together in order to win a championship saying, "We're great as a team, so when we play together, that's when we're at our best."

Moore also said about Sylvia Fowles, "She came in and made some big, big plays for us offensively just being relentless on the glass and defensively causing havoc."

Fowles had six rebounds with two blocked shots and 13 points.

Seimone Augustus also stepped up for Minnesota blocking shots, grabbing 5 rebounds, and adding 16 points herself. In talking about the Lynx's success tonight, Augustus said, "We're moving the ball around. We're executing [which is] something that we wanted to do this game to be more efficient on the offensive end...a lot of it is due to our defense.

"We're getting out; we're running, [and] we got a lot of easy baskets."

And those easy baskets added up. At one point during the first half, Minnesota had doubled Los Angeles' score. Some of those points came from a productive Lynx's bench in Devereaux Peters who posted a playoff career high 12, and Anna Cruz, who added another 9.

Minnesota will host the Phoenix Mercury along with Defensive Player of the Year, Brittney Griner, on Thursday making their fifth straight Western Conference finals appearance. The Lynx are now 18-2 at the Target Center in postseason play.