In the NBA, the Los Angeles-San Antonio rivalry has Derek Fisher’s shot with 0.4 seconds left to win a key game in the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. Now, on the same court, the WNBA has matched it with an equally improbable finish, Sophia Young’s desperation jumper with 1.8 seconds left that bounced high off the backboard, off the front of the rim and back off the backboard before finally settling into the net to give San Antonio a 67-66 win in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
Watching the shot live via Webcast, it looked like the Silver Stars were doomed when it went a little long on the first carom. Young could shoot that shot 100 times and I’m not sure it would bounce in quite like that again.
So much was riding on that shot. As San Antonio took possession with 1.3 seconds left, it looked like the Silver Stars’ season was going to end on DeLisha Milton-Jones‘ layup moments earlier. With a win, the Sparks were headed to the WNBA Finals, while San Antonio needed the unlikely game score to force a Game 3 tomorrow. Now, the Sparks have to deal with a significant blow to their pysche and have only a little over 24 hours to do so because of the back-to-back games in the conference finals.
Los Angeles’ advantage is that the Silver Stars were so hard-pressed to contain Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie in this game. Parker had 19 points and a remarkable 17 rebounds, while Leslie added a double-double of her own with 17 points and 12 boards. This was a mirror image of much of the series with Seattle, with the stars carrying the Sparks while the role players save Temeka Johnson crumbled. I know Shannon Bobbitt is the better defender, but having the rookie running the show down the stretch instead of Johnson was mystifying. Bobbitt shot 2-for-12 from the field and was responsible for a costly shot-clock violation in the final minute.
San Antonio’s other big issue is backcourt injuries. Edwige Lawson-Wade left after rolling her right ankle and Helen Darling was limited and ultimately sidelined by a calf injury she’s been battling since the Olympic break. If both are out, the Silver Stars will have to rely heavily on their starters in a back-to-back set.
All of that sets up a fascinating winner-take-all Game 3 tomorrow at 2 p.m. on ESPN2 just after Detroit and New York play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at Noon.