WNBA: Thompson Buzzer-Beater Keeps Sparks Flashing
By Mel Greenberg
Tina Thompson became the latest notable to break the hearts of Minnesota Lynx fans Thursday night when her 17-foot shot with time running out gave the Los Angeles Lynx a 78-77 victory at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Moments before Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen, a perennial All-Star who signed a contract extension earlier in the day, hit two foul shots that seemingly gave the Lynx some breathing room in the race for playoff berths as the regular season hits its final 10 days.
But instead of Los Angeles (11-19) heading on a track toward the draft lottery and the potential No. 1 pick that could yield UConn senior Maya Moore, the Sparks are very much alive for the postseason.
Minnesota (11-18), which once again yielded a sizeable lead, is now locked into a third place tie with the San Antonio Silver Stars, 14 games behind Western Conference regular season champion Seattle and just 0.5 games in front of Los Angeles.
The Sparks have the tie-breaker with Minnesota on season series play but do not have any with the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury (14-15), who are in second place 11 games behind the Storm or San Antonio.
Furthermore, the Lynx on a back-to-back head to the Washington Mystics Friday night at the Verizon Center in a game in which the home team will be seeking to move closer to a playoff berth, especially if the Connecticut Sun (14-15) lose at home to Seattle Friday night.
DeLisha Milton-Jones had 21 points for Los Angeles, which would have been two games behind Minnesota. Thompson's shot, while not in the mode of the famous long-range bomb by Duke men's star Christain Laetner that gave the Blue Devils the NCAA East Regional win over Kentucky at the former Spectrum in Philadelphia, will become important in its own right depending on how the end of the season plays out.
In Friday night games, the first-place Indiana Fever (19-10) will be hosting Phoenix and the defending Eastern Conference champions can clinch a playoff berth if the Fever wins. They can also get the job done via loss by Connecticut, which is five games back.
Phoenix, which stays on the road to travel to New York Saturday night, can clinch a spot in the West because the Mercury have already won the season series with the Soarks.
The New York Liberty (17-11), which is tied with the Atlanta Dream (17-11), for second 1.5 games behind Indiana, will be in the Peach Tree State attempting to unlock the deadlock and, perhaps, with help from Phoenix, move closer to Indiana.
Washington (17-12), which is two games behind Indiana, will host Minnesota trying for a win that will either maintain a three game edge over Connecticut with four to play or increase to four games.
However, Connecticut holds the tie-break with Washington, but not with New York or Atlanta. The Sun absolutely need to win Friday night over Seattle and hope for some help elsewhere in the East.
The Tuisa Shock (5-24), which is 20 games behind Seattle and already eliminated, will travel to San Antonio where the host Silver Stars need to keep control over their own postseason fate with a win.
Tulsa will be playing Los Angeles on Saturday night.
That's it on this post until Friday night.