78 - 77 Final
  for this game

Thompson's buzzer-beater lifts Sparks

Aug 13, 2010 - 3:17 AM MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With one shot, Tina Thompson did more than win a game. She helped keep the Los Angeles Sparks in the playoff race.

Trailing by one point at Minnesota in the final seconds, and looking at falling another game back in the hunt for the postseason, Thompson hit a 17-foot buzzer-beater for a 78-77 win on Thursday night.

Lindsey Whalen had hit a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining to give the Lynx a 77-76 lead, but Thompson's shot from the baseline snapped a two-game Sparks losing streak.

With the win, Los Angeles improved to 11-19, and moved a half-game behind San Antonio and the Lynx for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"I stepped back and it was open so I just shot it," Thompson said. "I played terrible most of the game."

Minnesota got 24 points off the bench from Charde Houston, who tied a career best with four 3-pointers as the Lynx fell to 11-18.

"It was an emotional win for them and a devastating loss for us," Minnesota assistant coach Jim Petersen said. "We just have to pick up the pieces and make up for this. These games are playoff basketball for us."

Delisha Milton-Jones led the Sparks with 21 points as they beat Minnesota for the third time this season, earning the tiebreaker for the playoffs.

"It stings, definitely," said Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson, who led all rebounders with 14. "We know we need to take care of the home court and this was a big game. We played like it was important for a lot of the game, but it just got away from us on certain possessions."

Spurred by a 12-0 run, the Lynx opened up a 17-point lead in the second quarter. Houston came off the bench with 16 first-half points for Minnesota.

But the Sparks battled back via a trio of 3-pointers in the second quarter, and finally whittled Minnesota down to a single-digit lead, with the Lynx up 42-33 at the half.

Milton-Jones led Los Angeles with 12 points in the opening 20 minutes.

"We came out really stagnant defensively and not boxing out and they were controlling and hitting in all areas," Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom said. "We knew that (Minnesota) has consistently been letting teams back in the game, so we knew we had a chance to get back into it."

Minnesota, which had won on Tuesday at San Antonio seemed prepared to put the Sparks in its rearview mirror. Minnesota trailed 1-0 in the opening minute and not again until Milton-Jones' 3-pointer put the Sparks up 74-73 with 1:15 to play.

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