With a strong start, a strong finish and a well-rounded offensive effort, the Minnesota Lynx are back on the winning track.
Seimone Augustus scored 26 points, Maya Moore and Damiris Dantas both had double-doubles, and the Lynx rebounded from their first loss of the season with an 85-72 victory over the Sparks on Sunday at Staples Center.
Lindsay Whalen added 19 points and Janel McCarville scored 11 to give the Lynx (8-1) five players in double figures. Dantas had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Moore had 12 points and 13 rebounds as Minnesota never trailed.
"Everybody made plays today," Augustus said. "We didn't keep the ball in one person's hands and do a lot of one-on-one. We got it around and everyone was able to contribute."
The Lynx opened the game on a 19-7 run in which all five starters scored and held a commanding 30-16 lead after the first quarter.
The Sparks crawled back into it and cut the lead to 75-72 with four and a half minutes remaining, but Minnesota buckled down defensively and finished on a 10-0 run to secure the win.
"Being late in the game, against a great team, only being up three on the road," Augustus said, "it says a lot about character of this team to win like that."
Candace Parker had 24 points and 11 rebounds and reserve Jantel Lavender scored 12 points for the Sparks (3-4), who didn't make a field goal in the game's final five minutes.
"You have to start the game and finish the game," Sparks Coach Carol Ross said. "In the first quarter we automatically put ourselves in a position where you have to fight back, and it takes a lot more energy to fight from behind than it does to hold the lead. Not a great start at all and not a great finish."
After falling behind early, Parker rallied the Sparks back into it with 11 points in the second quarter to cut Minnesota's lead to 42-37 at halftime.
The Lynx used another quick start to pull away again, reeling off an 11-5 run to open the second half and extend the lead back to double figures. The Sparks put together a few mini runs of their own, but Minnesota never let them within three points and went into the final quarter up, 66-61.
The teams continued trading buckets deep into the fourth until the Lynx led, 75-72, with four and a half minutes remaining.
That's when the Sparks offense went ice cold. They missed their final six field-goal attempts and turned it over five times in that span.
"When the other team is down they start to get a little desperate, so you try to force some things," Moore said. "The combination of that pressure and our consistent defense I think forced some of those turnovers."
The Lynx offense wasn't much better in the final minutes, but a pair of Whalen jumpers and six free throws were enough to secure the victory.