LA moves to top of AP WNBA power poll after win vs Lynx

Los Angeles has jumped over Minnesota to the top spot in The Associated Press WNBA power poll following the Sparks’ season-opening victory over the Lynx.

The Sparks received all 14 first-place votes from the national media panel in the first regular-season poll Tuesday. Minnesota, which had been No. 1 in the preseason poll, fell one spot to second.

Los Angeles guard Chelsea Gray hit an off-balanced shot in the lane to give the Sparks a 77-76 win on Sunday at Minnesota.

“It’s early in the year,” Sparks coach Brian Agler told the AP. “We know we beat a good team, that’s pretty obvious. I think they’ll get their act together. We’ll get better as well. There are several teams that got better in the offseason.

“I don’t look at our league like a lot of people do as a one- or two-team race. I think there are several teams that could really get it going this year,” Agler added. “You got to catch some breaks, get a good schedule and stay healthy.”

The Sparks won without All-Star forward Candace Parker, who missed the game with a back injury.

“I don’t anticipate her being in (Indiana) for our next game,” Agler said. “She’s rehabbing.”

Los Angeles was also missing first-round draft pick Maria Vadeeva, who is in Russia still awaiting a visa, as well as 6-foot-4 Jantel Lavender, who was playing in the Turkish league playoffs.


POWER POLL:. A look at this week’s WNBA poll:

1. Los Angeles (1-0): The Sparks continue a three-game road trip to open the season with stops in Indiana and Connecticut.

2. Minnesota (0-1): The Lynx didn’t shoot well and still only came one defensive stop away from keeping their top spot.

3. Phoenix (2-0): The Mercury have looked impressive in their two wins. Having DeWanna Bonner back helps after she missed last season because she was pregnant.

4. Connecticut (1-0): Set WNBA record in its opening-game rout with 36-point win over short-handed Las Vegas. Sun will get tested by Los Angeles

5. Dallas (1-1): Having 6-8 Liz Cambage back makes all the difference in the world for the Wings.

5. Chicago (2-0): Has started 2-0 for the first time since 2014. Allie Quigley is a major reason for Sky’s early season success.

7. Washington (1-0): It’s rare when Elena Delle Donne has a poor shooting game and the Mystics find a way to win. She was 5-for-18 in the Mystics’ win vs. Indiana.

8. New York (0-1): The Liberty were missing Epiphanny Prince, Kia Vaughn, Kiah Stokes and Brittany Boyd in season-opening loss to Chicago.

9. Seattle (0-1): Breanna Stewart looked good in opening loss to Phoenix but the Storm had no answer for Brittney Griner.

10. Atlanta (0-1): Got blitzed by Dallas in season opener. Look to rebound against Chicago in a matinee game Wednesday.

11. Las Vegas (0-1): Good news for Bill Laimbeer is that the Turkish league playoffs are over and he will soon have Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum available to play.

12. Indiana (0-2): The Fever were competitive in losses to Chicago and Washington.


PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Brittney Griner earned AP player of the week honors after helping Phoenix go 2-0 last week. She averaged 21 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Other players receiving votes were Liz Cambage, Chelsea Gray, Allie Quigley and Alyssa Thomas.


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To find the poll online: