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Tina Thompson scores 26 points, Sparks push Lynx to brink of missing playoffs

Tina Thompson had 26 points and nine rebounds and DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 24 points to help the Los Angeles Sparks clinch a playoff spot with a 98-91 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night.

Ticha Penicheiro had 12 assists for the Sparks (13-20), who got their seventh win in 11 games.

"Oh my God, sweet victory," Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom said. "We just fought through adversity all this season, through injuries, all of it, and we're here. That's what makes it so sweet."

Charde Houston had 21 points and seven rebounds for the Lynx (12-21), who must win Sunday in Indiana to remain in playoff contention.

"We have to go in there and play with intensity," Lindsay Whalen said. "We've been playing hard and we've been playing well. We just haven't been finding the right answers at the end of games."

Whalen added 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

She scored six points in a 47-second span to narrow the Lynx's deficit to 92-86 with 1:10 to play. But Toliver's 3-pointer extended the lead to 95-86 with 54.2 seconds left.

"This team in the past has showed that it can't close out games in the end," Gillom said. "We had to be more aggressive. We knew that if we kept it close until the fourth quarter, we could probably pull it off."

Minnesota played without center Nicky Anosike for the second consecutive game. The Lynx suspended Anosike for the rest of the regular season Tuesday. She started 30 of 31 games and averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.