Maurice Dixon


MINNEAPOLIS — Thanks to an explosive end to the second quarter and a critical scoring run in the third quarter, the defending-champion Minnesota Lynx evened their series at 1-1 against the Los Angeles Sparks with an 79-60 victory Tuesday in Game 2 of the 2016 WNBA Finals.

Maya Moore had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Seimone Augustus added 14 points for Minnesota, which held L.A. to 33 percent shooting from the field.

After building a double-digit lead at the break, the Lynx fell into one of those cold spells and the Sparks took advantage. Alana Beard, Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver all scored during a 14-0 run, which closed Los Angeles deficit to 44-41 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.

But that would be as close as the Sparks would get. Sylvia Fowles (13 points, 15 rebounds) converted a three-point play on the other end and Moore added a jumper and 3-pointer to punctuate the 8-0 response.

The Lynx entered  the final 10 minutes ahead by the same margin and Augustus was key in helping keep the Sparks at bay on the way to the much-needed double-digit win.

“I was more assertive today and more aggressive–just trying to attack the basket and put L.A.’s defense in compromising positions,” Augustus said. “I got so many texts from folks back home that I had to bring that Bayou Beast out tonight.”

Ogwumike finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Beard, who scored the last points of Game 1 and the first point of Game 2, had 13 points.

The first half was a tightly-played contest until Moore sparked a 17-3 run for the Lynx with 3-pointer with 4:07 left. Moore followed that basket with a layup and Rebekkah Brunson (10 points) scored the next four points to add to the momentum.

“Both teams are very physical but we had the momentum,” Moore said. “When we play great defense it pushes our offense. We are just trying to run and take advantage.”

Then Moore nailed another 3-pointer and threw a one-handed full-court pass to Lindsay Whalen, who layed the ball in while being fouled for an eventual three-point play and a 39-25 advantage.

“Lindsay made a great catch and quick finish,” Moore said. “She is one of the best finishers. That is why I love playing with her. I was happy to push the pace and she finished.”

The Lynx entered the locker room with a 14-point halftime advantage.

Game 3 is Friday in Los Angeles.