Lynx Sweep Mercury Season Series 5-0, Win 81-69

Kyle Ratke
Web Editorial Associate

Email | Twitter

In front of a franchise-record 16,404 fans, many of them kids attending Camp Day, the Minnesota Lynx defeated the Phoenix Mercury 81-69 on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mercury weren't at full strength. In fact, they might not have even been at half strength. Phoenix was without Brittney Griner (knee), Penny Taylor (rest) and Diana Taurasi (suspension), leaving the team with just eight active players.

Lynx vs. Mercury
Despite the lack of depth, Phoenix was somewhat competitive in the first half. After trailing 23-13 in the first quarter, the Mercury edged back and trailed just 41-34 at half. Their offense didn’t look as crisp without their stars, but DeWanna Bonner carried the load, leading all scorers with 13 points in the first half.

"I thought we played really well defensively in the first quarter," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "I thought our help defense was good and we made it difficult for them to get into the paint... I think we were pretty on point with our defensive schemes... But after the first quarter I think we backed down a little bit."

In just her third game back from spraining her ankle, Seimone Augustus led the Lynx with 10 points at halftime, while Monica Wright added nine off the bench.

The lack of depth caught up to Phoenix in the third quarter, though. The Lynx outscored the Mercury 26-19 in the quarter led by Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. The duo had six points each.

The Mercury would outscore the Lynx 16-14 in the fourth, but the damage had already been done, as the Lynx came away with an 81-69 win.

Whalen finished with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Augustus added 16 while shooting 8-of-11. She's now shooting 51 percent from the field, which is incredibly impressive from a shooting guard.

Wright finished with 14 points, while Maya Moore finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Center Janel McCarville played another solid game, finishing with nine points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals and one block.

Trying to replace the injured players, Candice Dupree and Bonner combined for 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but it wasn't enough as no other player on the team besides Charde Houston (13) scored more than nine points.

The Lynx (14-3) have now won seven straight games and have won their last 10 against the Mercury (9-9). The Lynx are also 8-0 at home this season.

Minnesota has the best record in the league and sit 5.5 games ahead of the third-place Mercury in the West. However, the Lynx are only two games ahead of Los Angeles for first.

The Lynx are at a comfortable place heading into the All-Star Break, but they know that it's no time to pump the brakes.

"Great first half to the season," Reeve said. "A lot of things went right for us. Our players playing well and we know that's in the books now. We're going to take a break here over the All-Star break and then come back and know that each and every night is going to be really hard for us."

Leader of the Pack: Lindsay Whalen

The point guard that does it all, well, did it all for the Lynx on Wednesday afternoon.

Whalen, who was named to the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, finished with a game-high 18 points going along with seven assists and five rebounds. Lynx fans have been spoiled as of late watching one of the best point guards in the game playing her best ball.

"Lindsay is playing great," Reeve said. "I think she's playing the best ball of her career in terms of both offense and defense. And for her you just want to keep it moving in that direction."

Audio: Whalen with Alan Horton

Whalen has scored 14 or more points in nine straight games and has combined for 28 assists in her last four.

On Wednesday, Whalen shot 7-of-16 from the field while making 4-of-5 free throws.

She couldn't have done much more to prove that she belongs in Saturday's All-Star Game, which airs at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.

Highlight of the Game

Midway through the first quarter, Augustus dribbled before crossing over a group of Phoenix players on the way to an easy layup. For those who aren't all that familiar with her game, the crossover is her main move and nearly impossible to keep up with, as we've noticed throughout the years.

It was also a great sign on the shooting guard's health. It was just her third game back from spraining her ankle, but that move (along with a few others in the game) gave Lynx fans the confidence that she is indeed fully recovered.

The Numbers Game

  • Wright finished with 14 points, which might just seem like another night for the top player on Minnesota's bench. Those 14 points were more significant as it put Wright over the 1,000 point mark for her career. Wright is averaging nearly 11 points per game this season, which trails only her rookie season as a career high. This year, however, she is shooting 43 percent from the field compared to 37 percent in 2010. Wright is also averaging a career-high 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

  • The franchise record of 16,404 fans surpassed the previous record of 16,227 that occurred on July 14, 2004. That night, Lindsay Whalen returned to Minnesota for the first time as a WNBA player with the Connecticut Sun—four months after leading the Gophers to the Final Four.

  • Forward Rebekkah Brunson finished four steals. She finished one steal shy from her career high. No other player in the game had more than two steals. The Mercury finished with just three total.

  • Quotable

    "It's going to be a fun one and I'm glad that I get the chance to participate in not only the All-Star event but doing it with my teammates and people I respect," — Maya Moore on playing in the All-Star Game with three of her teammates

    Looking Ahead

    The All-Star Break will run until August 2, but not all Lynx players will be resting over the break. Augustus and Moore will be starters for the Western Conference, while Whalen and Brunson will be reserves. The game will be televised on ABC and begins at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.