MINNEAPOLIS – Chelsea Gray’s contested off-balance shot in the lane at the buzzer gave the Los Angeles Sparks a 77-76 victory over the Minnesota Lynx in their season opener Sunday, an intense rematch of last year’s WNBA finals.
Lindsay Whalen had 10 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Lynx, including a pair of free throws with 5.8 seconds left. Gray, who finished with 18 points and eight assists, dribbled into traffic at the other end after a timeout and gave the short-handed Sparks some payback for losing the title last fall.
Odyssey Sims led the Sparks with 21 points, Nneka Ogwumike added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Essence Carson had 10 points. Los Angeles shot just 3 for 18 from 3-point range.
Sylvia Fowles had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Rebekkah Brunson pitched in 15 points, and Maya Moore had just 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting for the Lynx. They had a staggering 24 turnovers that turned into 23 points for the Sparks.
The Sparks couldn’t have expected much more production without star Candace Parker, who didn’t take the trip because of what was announced as a back injury. Russian center Maria Vadeeva, a key offseason acquisition, has not joined the team yet. Jantel Lavender, another important veteran, has not finished with her overseas club yet, either.
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