Chicago’s win eliminates Sparks from WNBA playoff race

CHICAGO — The Sparks’ fading playoff hopes were officially extinguished on Friday night when the Chicago Sky defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 92-87, to clinch the eighth and final spot in the WNBA’s postseason field.

Kahleah Copper scored 20 points, Marina Mabrey added 19 to pace Chicago (17-22), which owns the over the Sparks (16-23) should the two finish with the same record after Sunday’s regular-season finales. Chicago won the season series, 3-1.

Minnesota (19-20) dropped into a tie for the fifth seed with Atlanta with one game remaining. The season ends Sunday with Chicago (17-22), locked into the eighth seed, playing at Connecticut while Minnesota plays at Indiana.

The Sparks, who were plagued by injuries and absences all season long, close their campaign on Sunday afternoon in Seattle against the Storm (11-28). This is the third consecutive season the Sparks will miss the playoffs.

Dana Evans had seven quick points in the second quarter to spark Chicago, which turned a 19-16 deficit after one quarter into a 44-39 halftime lead. Mabrey’s 3-pointer put the Sky on top for good at 35-32 at the 3:17 mark.

Napheesa Collier had a three-point play that pulled the Lynx within 64-62 late in the third quarter but they never got closer as Chicago pushed the lead out to 12.

Collier had 28 points, rookie Diamond Miller 24 and Kayla McBride, who signed a multiyear contract earlier in the day, added 16.

Courtney Williams had 13 points and 11 assists for the Sky, who overcame injuries and a coaching change in the middle of the season to make the playoffs.

James Wade left the team on July 1 to become an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors with Emre Vatansever replacing him as the coach/general manager.

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