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  1. #576  
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    Moore, Lynx even WNBA Finals at 1-1
    October 11, 2016



    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Maya Moore had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help the Minnesota Lynx even the WNBA Finals at one game apiece with a 79-60 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 2 on Tuesday night.


    Sylvia Fowles had 13 points and 15 boards and Minnesota held Los Angeles to 32.9 percent shooting to bounce back from a last-second loss in Game 1. Seimone Augustus scored 14 points and Minnesota dominated on the glass, 46-32, to pull away.


    Nneka Ogwumike had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks, who head back home for the next two games in the best-of-five series. Candace Parker was quiet with six points on 3-for-12 shooting.


    The Lynx are trying to become the first back-to-back champions in the league since the Sparks repeated in 2002. A win in this series would also give Minnesota its fourth championship, which would tie the Lynx with the Houston Comets for most in league history.


    Last year the Lynx lost Game 1 at Target Center to the Indiana Fever, but rebounded to win that series in five games. But they know they face an even more capable challenger this year with the star-studded Sparks.


    Neither team led by more than five points during an air-tight Game 1 that Los Angeles won at the buzzer on a jumper from Alana Beard. The first 16 minutes of Game 2 were just as competitive, but Moore and the Lynx seized control in the final four minutes of the second quarter.


    After going scoreless in the first half of Game 1, Moore got rolling during a 17-3 blitz to close the period. She hit two 3-pointers and a layup, then picked Parker's pocket and heaved a three-quarter length outlet to a streaking Lindsay Whalen for a three-point play and a 37-25 lead.


    Moore had 12 points in the first half and the Lynx took much better care of the ball after coughing it up 11 times in the first half of Game 1.


    The Sparks made things interesting with a 14-0 run in the third quarter that made the score 44-41, but Augustus and Moore took over in the fourth to turn back the charge.


    Ogwumike, the league MVP, scored just two points in the final period and the Sparks were 3 for 20 on 3-pointers for the game.

    RECORD RATING:
    The WNBA instituted a new playoff format this year that seeded teams based on record, not geography. It resulted in the two best teams during the regular season meeting in the finals despite both playing in the Western Conference. Game 1 drew an average audience of 597,000, the most-watched Game 1 ever on ABC, the network announced on Tuesday. It peaked with 693,000 viewers and was the most-watched Game 1 since 1998 broadcast across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.


    UP NEXT: Game 3 is Friday in Los Angeles.
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  3. #578  
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    SCHEDULE FOR FRIDAY OCTOBER 14, 2016
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    9:00 PM Minnesota Lynx Los Angeles Sparks Staples Center


    SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 16, 2016
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:30 PM Minnesota Lynx Los Angeles Sparks Staples Center
    Updated Thu Oct 13 1:04 AM EDT
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    Preview: Lynx (28-6) at Sparks (26-8)
    Date: October 14, 2016 9:00 PM EDT


    MINNEAPOLIS -- Los Angeles Sparks coach Brian Agler had just finished with a split in the first two games of the WNBA Finals in Minnesota and was asked about his feeling heading back home for two games.


    The home-court advantage in the series had seemingly flipped in Los Angeles' favor when the Sparks took Game 1 with a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot by 12-year veteran Alana Beard. Following the Game 2 loss, Agler didn't seem at ease despite heading to Los Angeles with a split.


    "You know, I'm glad we won a game," Agler said, almost tentative of his team's chances against the defending champion Lynx. "You're sitting back and saying, 'Well, that team has got to win on the road. That's going to be very important,' and it is, there's no question about it. But from my seat now, I don't really look at it that way. I just sort of focus on the next game...


    "Our focus right now is to win one more game. That's what we want to do. We want to win one more game, and then we'll see where we stand and we'll go from there."


    Minnesota won Game 2 on Tuesday night, 79-60, finally pulling away in what had been a close series until the second quarter on Tuesday. Game 3 is Friday at the Galen Center.


    Agler's hesitancy is fitting a series against the Lynx, who are seeking their fourth championship in six years. Last year, Minnesota lost the first game on its home court before beating Indiana in five games. The Lynx won Game 2 at home before going on the road and taking back the home-court advantage with a Game 3 win in Indiana.


    "We have a lot of confidence," Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus said after 14 points in Tuesday's victory. "Like you said, we were in this position before, last year. And, I mean, the thing for us is we know what we needed to do."


    The Lynx have been in a similar position not only in recovering from a blown Game 1. Minnesota's core has been around during their championship runs.


    Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson have been key players on each of the championship teams. Even relative newcomer Sylvia Fowles has played nine WNBA seasons and was on last year's title team, winning the Finals MVP.


    Los Angeles features one player with Finals experience in seldom-used center Ann Wauters.


    The inexperience might have shown on Tuesday when the Sparks' couldn't counter the Lynx big runs.


    "Everybody just kind of has to do a better job of helping one another," Los Angeles guard Kristi Toliver said. "Sometimes it's hard in an environment like this, and it just feels like everything is going a mile a minute. You kind of just have to take a pause sometimes, and I think (Tuesday) we didn't take that pause."


    Los Angeles led the league during the regular season by shooting 48.7 percent from the floor. On Tuesday, the Sparks shot just 32.9 percent (23 of 70). League MVP Nneka Ogwumike took just six shots, making five in a 14-point performance.


    Meanwhile, the Lynx controlled the boards with a 46-32 rebounding advantage.


    "I think there's only one statistic that maybe there's a separator between the two teams, and it's rebounding," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "So, we might as well try to use it to our advantage, and it gives you the extra possessions. We got some good hustle plays."


    Moore, who was third in MVP voting behind Ogwumike and New York's Tina Charles, was the star of Game 2. Moore scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the game, and keyed a 17-3 lead in the second quarter as the Lynx took control of the game and changed the outlook of the series.


    "It's a series," Toliver said. "I said after Game 3 when we lost in Chicago (in the semifinals) that we weren't going to sweep them, and we're not going to sweep now in the Finals. We're still a confident group. We still feel good.


    "We came here to do what we wanted to do, and that was to get one (win). We feel pretty good about that, and now we need to take care of business at home."




    WNBA HEAD TO HEAD


    Oct 11, 2016 Score ATS Results
    LOS 60 Under: 139
    MIN 79 Cover: 12
    Tools: Recaps


    Oct 9, 2016 Score ATS Results
    LOS 78 Cover: 8.5
    MIN 76 Under: 154
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    Sep 6, 2016 Score ATS Results
    MIN 77 Cover: 4
    LOS 74 Under: 151
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    Jun 24, 2016 Score ATS Results
    LOS 94 Cover: 23.5
    MIN 76 Over: 170
    Tools: Recaps


    Jun 21, 2016 Score ATS Results
    MIN 72 Cover: 4
    LOS 71 Under: 143
    Tools: Recaps
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    Armadillo: Friday's six-pack


    — Dodgers 4, Nationals 3– Kershaw got last two outs to close game out, two days after he threw 110 pitches in Game 4. Thats why you pay the guy $31M a year. Break for Cubs, who won’t see Kershaw until Game 3 now.


    — Florida visits LSU November 19 in a makeup game; Bayou Bengals go to Gainesville in both 2017 and 2018.


    — In his great career, WR Larry Fitzgerald has caught TD passes from 13 different Cardinal QB’s.


    — Since August 2014, half the 30 major league teams have hired a new chief baseball executive. Lot of impatient owners out there.


    — Thru five weeks in the NFL, no kickoffs have been run back for a TD; last time that happened was 1979.


    — Open Court on NBA TV has some good discussions with both NBA coaches/GMs that were filmed in Las Vegas this summer. Good stuff.


    — Big Sky conference has 12 hoop teams; 8 of the 12 teams have either 4 or 5 starters back from LY. Will that make it harder to win on the road?


    **********


    Armadillo: Friday's List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend


    13) Cam Newton should be back at QB for the 1-4 Panthers, who visit the Superdome this week. Saints allowed 34+ points in three of their four games, had their bye last week, while Carolina is traveling on short week after the Monday night loss to Tampa Bay.


    12) Tennessee Vols have had a brutal schedule: Florida-Georgia-A&M the last three weeks, now Alabama on the third Saturday in October. Vols have been gritty and resilient- beating Bama is a tall order, even in Neyland Stadium. One thing in Tennessee’s favor; Crimson Tide has only played one close game- if this one is close, the Volunteers are in familiar territory.


    11) Who will have more fans in Miami Sunday, the Steelers or Dolphins? Pittsburgh fans are usually everywhere, but Steelers are just 12-21-1 as road favorites the last nine years. Miami scored total of 24 points in losing its last two games. Steelers are 4-0 if they allow 16 or less points.


    10) Ole Miss QB Kelly got in a fight at his brother’s high school game during his bye week; I’m sure the Ole Miss coaches were thrilled to hear that. Rebels lost 53-52 in OT to Arkansas LY; this figures to be a high scoring, fun game to watch.


    9) Colin Kaepernick starting for the 49ers means that thru six weeks, 8 of 32 (25%) NFL teams have started at least two QB’s this season. Will it helps the 49ers? Kaepernick is more mobile, throws a better deep ball— he is 29-20 as an NFL QB, Gabbert 9-31, but Gabbert was also on a terrible Jaguars team.


    8) North Carolina beat Miami 59-21 LY; what is the over/under on the number of times Miami coaches brought that up this week? Problem is, Miami had their rivalry game with Florida State last week and it is tough to get really fired up two weeks in a row.


    7) League championship series get underway in baseball, but first, I have a question.


    Cubs pinch-hit for Addison Russell in Game 4 against the Giants. When was the last time a guy with 95+ RBI during the regular season got pinch-hit for in a big spot in a playoff game?


    6) Northwestern covered its last six visits to Michigan State; now they’re visiting a Spartan squad that lost three games in row for first time in seven years.


    5) Eagles-Redskins is an intriguing game. Wentz played well in Eagles’ loss LW, but they did lose, after entering their bye week 3-0. Redskins have won three games in row and pass the Eagles in the standings with a win here.


    4) Total in the West Virginia-Texas Tech game is 83; kickoff is noon ET, which is 11am in Lubbock, more stupid scheduling for TV purposes.


    3) Oakland is 4-1, with three wins by 3 or less points. Chiefs have been dismal on road so far, but Andy Reid is 11-4 vs spread coming off a bye. Big rivalry game in the Coliseum, with the Raiders fired up for their first playoff spot since 2002.


    2) Texas-San Antonio won as a 17-point home underdog LW; now they’re a 3-point road favorite at Rice this week, a historic soft spot for the favorite. Rice is 0-5, allowing 40.2 pts/game, so they’re impossible to back, but this will be an interesting result.


    1) St Louis Cardinals drafted Joe Namath in the 1965 NFL Draft; Jets drafted him in the AFL Draft. How would the football world have changed if Namath had played for the Redbirds? Arizona had extra time to prep after playing on Thursday last week; they’re hoping get QB Palmer (concussion) back this week.
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  6. #581  
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    WNBA
    Dunkel


    Friday, October 14


    Minnesota @ Los Angeles



    Game 651-652
    October 14, 2016 @ 9:00 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Minnesota
    118.201
    Los Angeles
    121.521
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Los Angeles
    by 3 1/2
    152
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Los Angeles
    by 1 1/2
    157
    Dunkel Pick:
    Los Angeles
    (-1 1/2); Under









    WNBA
    Long Sheet


    Friday, October 14



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    MINNESOTA (32 - 7) at LOS ANGELES (30 - 10) - 10/14/2016, 9:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.


    Head-to-Head Series History
    MINNESOTA is 9-7 against the spread versus LOS ANGELES over the last 3 seasons
    MINNESOTA is 11-5 straight up against LOS ANGELES over the last 3 seasons
    11 of 16 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------








    WNBA


    Friday, October 14



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    9:00 PM
    MINNESOTA vs. LOS ANGELES
    Minnesota is 8-17 SU in its last 25 games when playing on the road against Los Angeles
    Minnesota is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Los Angeles
    Los Angeles is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Minnesota
    Los Angeles is 17-8 SU in its last 25 games when playing at home against Minnesota
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    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14



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    Sparks rout Lynx 92-75; move within game of WNBA title
    October 15, 2016



    LOS ANGELES (AP) Candace Parker watched video of herself in every game the Sparks played against Minnesota this season.


    She didn't like what she saw.


    Parker brought a different mentality into Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, leading an aggressive charge from the opening tip in the Sparks' 92-75 victory Friday night that put the franchise on the brink of its first championship since 2002.


    ''That was a product of me being non-existent in every game we played Minnesota this year,'' Parker said.


    She scored 24 points, Nneka Ogwumike added 21 and the Sparks took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.


    ''We've worked too hard to get to this point and just be there,'' Parker said. ''We had a game plan of just going to the basket and being aggressive.''


    The Sparks can close out the Lynx with a victory in Game 4 on Sunday.


    Los Angeles built a 22-point advantage in the opening quarter when it shot 60 percent in the game played at Galen Center on the Southern California campus, down the street from their home court at Staples Center.


    ''It's all on the want to of Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker to start the game. Their want-to was on `10,''' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''I'm not sure what we were expecting when we started the game but it wasn't that.''


    Parker and Ogwumike were especially devastating in a 2 1/2-minute sequence in the first. They combined to score 12 straight points with Ogwumike hitting consecutive 3-pointers and Los Angeles taking a 21-6 lead.


    ''I didn't see it coming,'' a clearly peeved Reeve said. ''They won the persistency battle. We didn't rise to the occasion. We were soft, we were feeble.''


    Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles led Minnesota with 14 points each. Lindsay Whalen added 11, and Maya Moore had nine points and seven rebounds. The Lynx had 13 turnovers.


    ''They're extremely good converting those turnovers into points,'' Moore said. ''If you give that much of a lead to a great team, it's going to be really hard to come back.''


    The Lynx cut the deficit to 48-40 at halftime, outscoring the Sparks 10-0 to end the second.


    ''You're not going to sustain that,'' Sparks coach Brian Agler said about his team's initial intensity, ''but I also think a lot of that had to do with Minnesota. They experimented there for a while and finally got a group that was working.''


    It didn't last long.


    With their former and current league MVPs leading the way, the Sparks dominated inside. Parker and Ogwumike helped Los Angeles to a 52-32 advantage in the paint.


    Parker and Ogwumike had nine rebounds each, helping the Sparks to a 29-24 edge on the boards.


    Essence Carson added 16 points, and Alana Beard finished with 15 for Los Angeles.


    The Lynx made a run in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Sparks 11-2 to close to 81-71. Los Angeles answered with eight straight points to go up 89-71. Parker hit a layup and fed Ogwumike on a fast-break sandwiched around baskets by Beard.


    ''We just didn't have enough consecutive possessions on both sides of the ball to create enough of a run,'' Moore said.


    Minnesota is seeking its fourth title in six years. The Lynx evened the series with a 19-point victory in Game 2 on their home court.


    ALL-WNBA

    League MVP Ogwumike was the only unanimous pick for the all-WNBA first team, receiving 39 first-place votes and 195 points from the media panel.


    New York center Tina Charles was second with 38 first-team votes and 193 points. Guards Maya Moore of Minnesota and Sue Bird of Seattle, and forward Elena Delle Donne completed the first team.


    Forwards Angel McCoughtry of Atlanta and Breanna Stewart of Seattle were selected to the second team along with guards Diana Taurasi of Phoenix and Jewell Loyd of Seattle, and center Fowles.


    PURPLE ONE


    Lynx F Natasha Howard scored six points, but made a bigger statement with footwear. She sported the purple symbol associated with the late singer Prince on her white shoes.

    McCARVILLE INJURY



    Lynx F-C Janel McCarville hurt her back and didn't return.


    UP NEXT


    Game 4 is Sunday night at Staples Center.
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  9. #584  
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    WNBA
    Dunkel


    Sunday, October 16


    Minnesota @ Los Angeles



    Game 653-654
    October 16, 2016 @ 8:30 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Minnesota
    116.545
    Los Angeles
    121.177
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Los Angeles
    by 4 1/2
    167
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Los Angeles
    by 2
    160
    Dunkel Pick:
    Los Angeles
    (-2); Over









    WNBA
    Long Sheet


    Sunday, October 16



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    MINNESOTA (32 - 8) at LOS ANGELES (31 - 10) - 10/16/2016, 8:30 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.


    Head-to-Head Series History
    MINNESOTA is 9-8 against the spread versus LOS ANGELES over the last 3 seasons
    MINNESOTA is 11-6 straight up against LOS ANGELES over the last 3 seasons
    11 of 17 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------








    WNBA


    Sunday, October 16



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    8:30 PM
    MINNESOTA vs. LOS ANGELES
    Minnesota is 17-4 SU in its last 21 games
    Minnesota is 8-17 SU in its last 25 games when playing on the road against Los Angeles
    Los Angeles is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games
    Los Angeles is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
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    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16



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    Lynx beat Sparks 85-79, claw back to tie WNBA Finals
    October 17, 2016



    LOS ANGELES (AP) Midway through the first quarter, Maya Moore was looking in her teammates' eyes, searching for clues as to how the game would go.


    She could see their passion and resolve.


    ''I knew we were going to fight,'' she said.


    Moore scored 31 points and Minnesota's defense held Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker in check to help the Lynx beat the Los Angeles Sparks 85-79 on Sunday night and force a decisive fifth game in the WNBA Finals.


    ''Every possession was so crucial and we just made more of them,'' Moore said.


    Lindsay Whalen added 13 points, Seimone Augustus had 12 and Sylvia Fowles had 10 points and 13 rebounds in tying the series 2-2 and sending it back to Minneapolis, where the Lynx will try to win their record-tying fourth championship on Thursday.


    ''This is what a Finals game should look like,'' Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''Both teams leaving it all on the floor.''


    Ogwumike, the league MVP, scored 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting, while two-time MVP Parker scored 14 points and made 6 of 7 free throws for the Sparks, who were trying to close out their first title since 2002 in front of their fans at Staples Center.


    Chelsea Gray led the Sparks with 20 points off the bench. She was 6 of 11 and made all four of her free throws.


    The Sparks outscored the Lynx 10-4 to open the fourth, tying it at 69-all on Parker's driving bank shot as she fell out of bounds. Los Angeles got most of its points at the free throw line, going 6 of 9 in that span.


    Whalen scored two straight baskets to put the Lynx back in front 73-69 on turnovers by Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, who finished with 15 points.


    ''We'll replay this game in our minds and know we have to play with a little bit more poise down the stretch,'' Toliver said. ''Be more decisive.''


    Trailing 77-72, Gray hit her fourth 3-pointer to draw the Sparks within two.


    ''We were trying, we were making things happen down the stretch,'' Los Angeles coach Brian Agler said. ''It's just the ability to play with poise down the stretch.''


    The teams traded baskets and Minnesota led 79-77. Parker was called for a shooting foul on Rebekkah Brunson, who made both free throws for an 81-77 lead. Before Parker fouled Brunson, it appeared that Minnesota hadn't gotten the ball across halfcourt in time to avoid an 8-second violation. Replays suggested the ball was still in the backcourt when the shot clock was at 16.


    ''I think they forgot they had to get the ball over the line,'' Toliver said. ''But that's life. We can't leave it up to the officials to determine a series. We have to go take it.''


    With 42 seconds left, Whalen lost the ball to Ogwumike. At the Sparks' end, Brunson stole it from Parker, who ended up getting whistled for the foul.


    ''I had it at one point and after that I didn't see what happened because I think I was on the floor,'' Whalen said. ''It was kind of a wild play.''


    Moore stole an inbounds pass and Ogwumike fouled her with 4 seconds left. Moore made both to close out the win, missing just one of her 12 free throw attempts.


    ''We fought today,'' Ogwumike said. ''When it comes to focus and awareness, we can sharpen up there. We're going to fight again.''


    The Lynx scored six in a row to take their largest lead, 52-42, early in the third, which ended in a 3-point contest. The Sparks made three, including two by Gray, and Moore hit two 3s for the Lynx, who led 65-59 going into the fourth. Moore scored 10 points in the third.


    Minnesota dominated the Sparks 22-4 in fastbreak points and controlled the boards, 41-25.


    STILL HURT


    Janel McCarville missed her second straight game with a back injury, leaving the Lynx without her 6-foot-2 post presence.


    FOUL TROUBLE


    Brunson, who guarded Parker much of the time, finished with six points and five fouls. Fowles had four fouls.


    KOBE & THE GIRLS


    A bearded Kobe Bryant returned to the scene of some of his greatest career moments, watching courtside with wife Vanessa and their two daughters. Also on hand was Sparks co-owner Magic Johnson, who returned from Chicago where the Dodgers were playing the Cubs in the National League Championship Series at the same time. Lakers guard Lou Williams, Cedric the Entertainer and Marsai Martin of ''black-ish'' attended.


    UP NEXT

    Game 5 is Thursday in Minnesota.
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    SCHEDULE FOR THURSDAY OCTOBER 20, 2016


    Time (ET) Away Home Site


    8:00 PM Los Angeles Sparks Minnesota Lynx Target Center



    WLT PCT UNITS


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    Lynx, Sparks ready for decisive Game 5
    October 19, 2016



    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Seimone Augustus was a 13-year-old girl when she watched the Houston Comets win the first WNBA championship in 1997.


    The Comets would win the first four titles in the league, proving to basketball-loving girls across the country that there was a place for them to pursue their dreams. And Augustus couldn't get enough of them.


    Two decades later, Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx stand on the precipice of joining those trailblazing women. A victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals on Thursday night would give the Lynx their fourth title, tying them with the Comets for most in league history.


    ''That's just mind-boggling to me,'' Augustus said. ''We grew up watching the Houston Comets and those wonderful women the kind of set the precedent for what WNBA basketball is all about. They've motivated and inspired us. Now we could be the new Houston Comets of this era if we do what we need to do.


    They know it will not be easy. Through the first four games of the series, the Sparks and Lynx have pushed each other as far as they can go, which is exactly what the league hoped would happen when it changed the playoff format to seed teams based on record and not geography. Los Angeles won Game 1 in Minnesota and Game 3 back home. The Lynx have responded to each loss with a victory of their own to find themselves right back where they were a year ago - needing a win in Game 5 at Target Center to bring home a title.


    Last year the Lynx dispatched the Indiana Fever in front of 17,000 fans, then partied all night long at Prince's house to celebrate title No. 3. Another raucous crowd is expected this time around in what would be the crowning achievement for the league's model franchise, first back-to-back championships in the league since the Sparks repeated in 2002.


    ''You couldn't ask for anything more,'' said Lynx star Maya Moore, who scored 31 points in Game 4 to keep Minnesota alive. ''It's been definitely a dramatic series and one that will go down as one of the best, I think.''


    The Lynx have been here five times in the last six years, but this has been their most difficult finals test. League MVP Nneka Oqwumike, Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver present a star-studded trio to rival Minnesota's, and they have been every bit their equal through four games.


    The Sparks are chasing ghosts of their own. A victory Thursday night would give them their first championship since Lisa Leslie led them to their second in a row in 2002, and that may have played into their defeat on Sunday. They were so eager to finish the series on their home floor that coach Brian Agler said they have turned their focus in the wrong direction, and it cost them.


    ''I think everyone out there was playing to win a championship and not to beat the team we were playing,'' Ogwumike said. ''I told coach yesterday in the airport that's exactly how I felt when he put it in that perspective. Having that with a good balance of focus and awareness and effort is exactly what we need.''


    Afterward, Lakers legend Magic Johnson addressed the crestfallen players, telling them to put the loss behind them and be ready because the series was not over.


    ''You could hear a pin drop,'' Toliver said. ''Everybody was just really locked in to what he was saying. When he's talking, everybody listens and that was exactly what we needed to hear in that moment because in that moment, your emotions are all over the place. He kind of just brought everybody back in and refocused everyone.''
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  14. #589  
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    Preview: Sparks (26-8) at Lynx (28-6)
    Date: October 20, 2016 8:00 PM EDT


    MINNEAPOLIS -- One team in Thursday's Game 5 of the WNBA Finals is trying to keep a dynasty alive. The other is trying to start one.


    The Minnesota Lynx are looking for their second straight WNBA crown and what would be their fourth title in the last six years. That would match an all-time record for most team titles in league history.


    The Los Angeles Sparks, meanwhile, are looking for their first championship since 2002, when they won the second of their back-to-back titles. The Sparks had run into the Lynx in the playoffs in recent years and haven't played in a Finals since 2003.


    After trading wins through four games, everything hinges on Thursday's finale at Target Center.


    "We each won on each other's home court, and that's not easy to do, when you look at the home court that we have and our fans and you look at what exists here," Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve said after Game 4. "... Now it's Game 5, which is what everybody was asking for, hoping for, and here we are."


    Two of the four games so far in the series have been very one-sided. The Lynx handily won Game 2 by a 19-point margin, while the Sparks dominated in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead after a 17-point victory.


    Los Angeles escaped Game 1 with a two-point win thanks to a buzzer beater by Alana Beard and some tough defense down the stretch. Minnesota forced a Game 5 with a win Sunday, fueled by a 31-point effort from Maya Moore.


    Moore, a former WNBA MVP, has averaged 22.3 points through these playoffs. As she has gone, so too have the Lynx.


    "Obviously Maya Moore hit some big shots, made some big plays, both ends of the floor," Sparks coach Brian Agler said following Los Angeles' loss in Game 4. "Got a lot of respect for them. They're a championship team. They're well-coached."


    Rebounding was key for Minnesota in Game 4. The Lynx out-rebounded the Sparks 41-25, including 14 offensive boards. Minnesota was the third-best rebounding team in the league all season, while Los Angeles ranked third-to-last in that category. The Sparks will have to find a way in Game 5 to account for Sylvia Fowles, who alone had 13 boards -- six on offense -- for the Lynx.


    A bonus for both teams is that they should be plenty fresh for Thursday's showdown. Game 5 takes place four days after Sunday's Game 4 in Los Angeles, giving each ample opportunity to rest and prepare.


    "Both teams will have had a chance to get their legs back underneath them," Agler said. "I think it'll be competitive again on Thursday. That's what I anticipate."


    The two Western Conference foes have gone back and forth all series, from quarter to quarter and game to game. So far, the series has lived up to the hype as the top two seeds in the playoffs have had the opportunity to go toe-to-toe.


    Now it's a matter of which team can land the last punch.


    "Obviously it's been a great series, lots of ups and downs, and two great teams battling it out," said Lynx veteran guard Lindsay Whalen. "There will definitely be a lot of energy for both sides on Thursday."



    WNBA HEAD TO HEAD


    Oct 16, 2016 Score ATS Results
    MIN 85 Cover: 7
    LOS 79 Over: 164
    Tools: Recaps


    Oct 14, 2016 Score ATS Results
    MIN 75 Over: 167
    LOS 92 Cover: 16
    Tools: Recaps


    Oct 11, 2016 Score ATS Results
    LOS 60 Under: 139
    MIN 79 Cover: 12
    Tools: Recaps


    Oct 9, 2016 Score ATS Results
    LOS 78 Cover: 8.5
    MIN 76 Under: 154
    Tools: Recaps


    Sep 6, 2016 Score ATS Results
    MIN 77 Cover: 4
    LOS 74 Under: 151
    Tools: Recaps


    Jun 24, 2016
    Score ATS Results
    LOS 94 Cover: 23.5
    MIN 76 Over: 170
    Tools: Recaps


    Jun 21, 2016 Score ATS Results
    MIN 72 Cover: 4
    LOS 71 Under: 143
    Tools: Recaps
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  15. #590  
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    WNBA
    Long Sheet


    Thursday, October 20



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    LOS ANGELES (31 - 11) at MINNESOTA (33 - 8) - 10/20/2016, 8:00 PM

    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.


    Head-to-Head Series History
    MINNESOTA is 10-8 against the spread versus LOS ANGELES over the last 3 seasons
    MINNESOTA is 12-6 straight up against LOS ANGELES over the last 3 seasons
    11 of 18 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------








    WNBA


    Thursday, October 20



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    8:00 PM
    LOS ANGELES vs. MINNESOTA
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Los Angeles's last 11 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
    Los Angeles is 3-14 SU in its last 17 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Minnesota's last 6 games at home
    Minnesota is 13-1 SU in its last 14 games at home
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