The Los Angeles Sparks showed they still have plenty of gas in the tank entering the playoffs as they defeated the Seattle Storm 102-68 on Thursday night to clinch the No. 3 seed.
All three ties and the game’s one lead change took place in the first quarter, as the Sparks took the lead for good with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
From then on out, it was pure Los Angeles dominance. While the Storm couldn’t score more than 20 points in a quarter, the Sparks only got better with time, putting up two 25-point quarters in the first half and two 26-point quarters in the second half.
The Sparks also out-rebounded the Storm 43-27, solidifying the Storm’s position as the worst-rebounding team in the WNBA.
Candace Parker had her second straight 20-point outing, scoring 20 points to go with nine rebounds. Los Angeles was also led by Nneka Ogwumike’s 14 points and 10 rebounds. Chelsea Gray, Chiney Ogwumike and Maria Vadeeva each scored 12 points, while Gray added nine rebounds.
All 12 Sparks players saw the court, and 11 scored.
Seattle was led by Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard’s 13 points apiece, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added nine points off the bench.
Thursday night marked the Sparks’ first time surpassing 100 points this season. They had scored 98 points two times.
As the No. 3 seed, the Sparks will face the lowest-seeded winner of the first-round games in the second round.
The Storm’s first-round opponent will be the Minnesota Lynx, but the location of the game has yet to be determined. Right now, the Storm trail the sixth-place Lynx by a half-game. But even if the Lynx win their penultimate game on Friday, a Storm win and a Lynx loss on Sunday sets up a tiebreaker situation that favors the Storm and gives them home-court advantage.
Both teams wrap up their regular-season schedules on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. ET.
The Storm visit the Dallas Wings (ESPN3/WNBA League Pass), while the Sparks host the Minnesota Lynx (ESPN2/NBA TV Canada).
Thursday’s other action
Atlanta Dream 78, Las Vegas Aces 74
It may not have counted for anything but pride for the last-place Dream, but they still put away the playoff-bound Aces behind five double-digit scoring performances. Elizabeth Williams led the victors with 20 points, Brittney Sykes scored 15, Renee Montgomery and Marie Gülich had 14 apiece and Alex Bentley added 11. Monique Billings grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
With this loss combined with the Los Angeles Sparks’ win, the Aces fell one game behind the Sparks into fourth place and are just a half-game ahead of the Chicago Sky. However, Las Vegas owns the tiebreaker against fifth-place Chicago, meaning if the Sky lose on Friday, the Aces will lock up the No. 4 seed.
Up next: Both teams are in action for their regular-season finales on on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. ET. The Dream host the New York Liberty (ESPN3/WNBA League Pass), while the Aces visit the Phoenix Mercury (ESPN3/WNBA League Pass).