Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Lynx end Sky’s five-game winning streak in final matchup between Sylvia Fowles and Candace Parker

In the 2008 Final Four, Candace Parker led Tennessee to a last-second win over Sylvia Fowles and LSU in one of the ugliest games ever played on that stage. A few weeks later, in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Parker was the No. 1 overall pick, while Fowles went No. 2. 

Over the ensuing 15 years, the duo has set the standard in the WNBA as two of the league’s all-time legends. Parker has two MVPs, one Finals MVP, one Defensive Player of the Year Award and nine All-WNBA appearances, while Fowles has one MVP, two Finals MVPs, four Defensive Player of the Year Awards and seven All-WNBA appearances. They are 1-1 in head-to-head matchups against each other in the Finals, and last year were both named to the WNBA’s 25 Greatest Players of All Time. 

On Wednesday afternoon in Minneapolis, in front of thousands of riled-up children too young to understand the significance of what they were about to witness, the two met on the court for the final time in the Minnesota Lynx’s 81-78 win over the Chicago Sky. Back in February, Fowles announced that this will be her final season. 

The two shared a long hug just before tip-off, and then it was time to go to work. 

In fitting fashion, Fowles got deep post position on the very first play of the game, leaving Parker with no choice but to foul. The Sky forward jumped up and down in frustration with herself because she knew what was coming and still couldn’t stop it. 

In Parker’s defense, few have ever been able to stop Fowles, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-8 from the field. Even as she calls it a career, Fowles is at the top of her game, and leads the league in field goal percentage at 64.5. 

Parker was not quite as efficient as her long-time rival and friend, but she also played well on the day and went for 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. She was instrumental in the Sky’s comeback attempt, as they battled back from an 11-point deficit to briefly take the lead late in the fourth quarter. 

But unlike the other week, when Courtney Vandersloot hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Lynx, there would be no last-second heroics for the Sky. Trailing by three with 12 seconds remaining, Allie Quigley missed two attempts at a game-tying 3-pointer, including one at the buzzer that was wide open. 

With that, the Lynx ended the league-leading Sky’s five-game winning streak, and picked up their second straight extremely impressive win. Just a few days prior, the Lynx destroyed the then-league-leading Las Vegas Aces by 31 in one of the most surprising results of the season. 

A few weeks ago, the Lynx’s season seemed virtually over. Napheesa Collier was out on maternity leave, Sylvia Fowles was sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury and they were in last place at 3-13. It seemed that tanking was the best course of action for the future of the franchise, especially with no indication of when Fowles might be back. 

Since then, the Lynx have gone 5-2, Fowles has returned and they’re suddenly just 2.5 games out of the playoff picture. Heading to the lottery and getting a chance at Aliyah Boston is still probably for the best in the long run, but making a dramatic run to the playoffs in Fowles’ final season would be pretty special as well. 

If the Lynx can keep playing like this after the All-Star break they just might have a chance. And who knows, if they can sneak into the postseason this might not be the final Fowles-Parker matchup after all. 

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