Candace Parker banked in a 3-pointer from 30 feet, giving the Sparks a two-point lead late and sending their fans into a tizzy.
“I said to myself, ‘We’re OK, we have time,’” Minnesota forward and Georgia native Maya Moore said. “We don’t get too high, we don’t get too low.”
The Lynx got what they wanted in the end, claiming an 80-79 victory for a 2-0 sweep of the Western Conference finals. And Moore scored 20 points in both of those wins.
“WNBA finals, here we come,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Reserve Monica Wright answered Parker’s theatrics with a 3-pointer to put the Lynx back in front, 80-79. She singlehandedly outscored the Sparks’ bench, 8-0.
“It was the perfect three,” Moore said. “I screamed, double fist-pumped and said, ‘Yes, Monica.’”
Alana Beard missed a 16-footer at the final buzzer for the Sparks as Parker pulled her jersey over her face in anguish.
Seimone Augustus scored 21 points and Lindsay Whalen added 17 for the Lynx, who trailed by 10 points early in the fourth and came in with a 4-21 record in L.A.
Minnesota got two 3-pointers from Moore to close to 70-67 before the Sparks committed three turnovers. Whalen made two straight baskets to put the Lynx back in front, 73-72, for the first time since early in the third.
The Lynx extended their lead to 77-74 before Parker scored consecutive baskets. She banked in the 3 from nearly the top of the key with 1:31 remaining, giving the Sparks a 79-77 lead and momentarily putting a big smile on her face.
“I really wanted this championship,” said Parker, who in five seasons has yet to make the WNBA finals. “It hurt after we lost because I think this was a championship team, but the ball didn’t fall our way.”
The Lynx, who won the series opener by 16 points, await the Eastern champion, either Connecticut or Indiana. The Finals begin Oct 14.
Parker had 33 points and 15 rebounds playing all 40 minutes, and joined retired Sparks star Lisa Leslie as the only players with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in WNBA postseason history. Teammates Kristi Toliver added 16 points and Beard 15.
In the third quarter, the Sparks used a 17-0 run to lead 65-57. The Lynx then went more than 5 minutes without a basket while Los Angeles took its first lead since the start of the game.
Parker keyed a 17-9 spurt with eight points in the second quarter, including a fast-break driving layup that got L.A. within one. The 6-4 forward had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Beard and Toliver each had four points in the spurt.