Simon Augustus quickly received a standing ovation and a few hours later left target center once again as a winner.
This is problematic for the home team as the Minnesota Lynx great is now an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Sparks.
33 was picked up for the Rafters in a pregame event before the Sparks dominated early and held Minnesota 85–83 at Sunday’s Slog Fest, which was a nail-biter.
Nneka Ogwumike returned a rebound of her own miss with 8.9 seconds left for the winning point.
“We talked about why we didn’t want Neneka to get a second chance, and she did,” coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Kayla McBride, who led Minnesota with 19 points and was perfect in eight free-throw attempts, missed the final second by a 17-foot jumper.
His basket got the Lynx within 83-81 with 59.8 seconds. Bridget Carlton caught a defensive rebound at the other end and Rachel Banham hit a jumper with 26.6 seconds and almost all of 7,234 appeared on her feet.
Minnesota (2–7) never led and trailed more than 17 in the first half, yet tied the game late in the third quarter.
“We just need to have a sense of urgency, and we have to figure it out,” said Banham, who watched extra time after Moria Jefferson injured his quad. “Such games are heartbreaking, especially at home. This is when you need to win your games. Home games are huge.”
Los Angeles (4–6) were whistled for a season-high 25 violations, including a major. Minnesota was whistled for a season-high tying 21 fouls, including two deemed flagrants.
Bridget Carleton had a heating device wrapped around her midsection in the middle of the fourth quarter, and Ariel Powers walked into the locker room with a towel over her face after catching an elbow on a drive.
Coming off the bench for the first time since the season opener, Powers scored 15 points and took 9 out of 10 from Charity Stripe.
Minnesota was 35 out of 43 from the free-throw line, both season highs. It scored a season-less 22 field goals, including four from outside the arc, which tied the season for the worst.
“We cannot create plays at a time and put experienced players in the wrong places. It doesn’t take talent. He’s attention to detail. Multiply that and that’s our problem. Very easy,” Reeve said.
Sylvia Fowles finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Lynx before there was 6:11 left.
Los Angeles was 22 out of 27 from the free-throw line.
“We played really good assets and then in the end we got them out. It just kills the vibe a bit. Then they just get free points on the line. We couldn’t get over the hump for that reason,” Banham said.
Augustus number 33 retired
Augustus is the team’s all-time leader in games (370), minutes (10,919), points (5,881), field goals (2,401) and field goals attempted (5,001). His 48.0% field-goal percentage and 268 steals are each third best.
“So many great experiences with this city and with the fans,” said Augustus, the first overall pick in the 2006 draft from Louisiana State, who spent 14 years in Minnesota and ended up with a year in Los Angeles.
The 2006 Rookie of the Year was the first Big Four to reach Minnesota, ahead of Maya Moore, Lindsay Whelan, and Rebecca Brunson. The quartet led the major Lynx to four titles in a span of seven years. Augustus was the MVP of the 2011 finals.
Whelan’s jersey is already hanging inside the arena, and Brunson’s No. 32 is to be picked up on July 3. Moore has not officially retired yet.