To no real surprise, the Minnesota Lynx are once again the top defensive team in the WNBA.
After using a strong defensive effort to bounce back from their first loss of 2019, the Lynx look to hand the visiting Los Angeles Sparks a second straight defeat Saturday.
Minnesota (4-1) yielded more than 71 points for the first time on the young season with an 84-77 loss at Seattle on Tuesday. The Storm shot a sizzling 59.3 percent from the floor, a rare occurrence against a Lynx franchise that has been known for its stellar defensive play under coach Cheryl Reeve.
The Lynx, though, returned to that stingy form with Thursday's 58-56 win over Phoenix. Odyssey Sims (11.6 points per game) had a team-high 15 points for the Lynx, who led by as many as 16, but failed to score in the final four minutes of the game. The Mercury hung in despite shooting 37 percent for the game.
Minnesota has allowed a league-low 67.8 points per game and 41.4-percent shooting through five games.
"Defense is the staple for our team," Minnesota rookie Napheesa Collier said. "We take a lot of pride in it, and it's something we work really hard on. Eventually our offense is gonna come, we just need to keep grinding through on defense."
With star Candace Parker sidelined by a hamstring injury, Los Angeles (2-2) has yet to reach the 80-point mark in any game this season. Nneka Ogwumike (16.7 ppg, 11.3 rebounds per game) had 21 points with 10 rebounds and sister Chiney Ogwumike (14.0 ppg) scored 19 for the Sparks in an 89-77 loss at Connecticut.
Los Angeles, which trailed by 21 with just under 3 ½ minutes to play in the third quarter, managed to claw back into the game and get within four. However, it was unable to get over the top while falling to 1-1 on a four-game road stretch.
After this contest, the Sparks play at Phoenix on June 14 before playing the following two games at home. They've played just one game at home thus far, winning 77-70 over the Sun on May 31.
Los Angeles ended Minnesota's 2018 season with a 75-68 victory in the first round of the WNBA playoffs. Chelsea Gray (14.3 ppg) led the Sparks with 26 points. Sylvia Fowles (13.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg) had 18 points with 12 rebounds) to lead the Lynx in that contest.