The Los Angeles Sparks will have a chance to play for a WNBA title for the first time since 2003. Their recently named MVP took a backseat to their longer-tenured franchise performer in the clincher Tuesday night.
Candace Parker dropped in 29 points to help the Sparks beat the Chicago Sky in Game 4 of the semifinal series, moving Los Angeles to a 95-75 victory in Chicago — well, Rosemont, Ill. — and a 3-1 series win.
The Sparks will face the Minnesota Lynx in the 20th WNBA Finals. That series will begin Sunday in Minneapolis, with the Lynx having the better regular-season record at 28-6. Los Angeles finished 26-8, so this will pit the league’s best two teams against each other.
MVP Nneka Ogwumike finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, and Kristi Toliver added 21 points to the cause, one that will have the Sparks on the precipice of the third championship in franchise history. Lisa Leslie led the team to the 2001 and ’02 WNBA titles.
Los Angeles led by as many as 28 points Tuesday night. Parker also contributed four blocks, five rebounds and two steals to the effort. The Sky were playing without 2015 league MVP Elena Delle Donne, who suffered a broken thumb just before the playoffs’ outset. Chicago featured a Delle Donne-fronted scoring operation, but Cappie Pondexter did score 19 in defeat. Delle Donne did not suit up; she missed 10 games to close the Sky’s season.
The Lynx, conversely, have resided as the league’s team of the decade.
Minnesota will go for a fourth championship in six years, with the Twin Cities’ top female franchise winning in each odd season during the 2010s. The Sparks were the last team to win back-to-back WNBA crowns. Minnesota will also try to become the second franchise to win four WNBA titles; the Houston Comets winning the league’s first four trophies stand as the only such team to do so.