Lynx Clinch WNBA's Top Record With 79-66 Win Over The Chicago Sky
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The Minnesota Lynx’s last regular season game wasn’t regular at all. In fact, it was probably Minnesota’s most important game of the season as it tried to secure the No. 1 seed in the WNBA.
Thanks to MVP performances from two MVP candidates, the Lynx secured the league’s top seed heading into the playoffs as they defeated the Sky 79-66 in front of a sold out Target Center on Saturday night.
Whatever Reeve’s game plan going into the game, it seemed to work.
"I think it was a game that didn't disappoint," Reeve said. "It was a game that everyone thought it would be."
The Lynx got off to a good start, leading 22-19 after the first quarter. MVP candidate Maya Moore was on fire, scoring 13 of those points.
Minnesota got off to a hot start in the second quarter, scoring six points in the first minute and 23 seconds to put the Lynx up 28-19 before a Chicago timeout. The timeout didn’t help, as Whalen connected almost immediately after on a 3-point play to give Minnesota a 31-19 lead.
Whalen went on to hit the next three baskets for the Lynx, giving them a 37-24 lead and a game-high 16 points. Not a little bad run for the point guard and the team, giving the Lynx a 20-9 run over a seven minute and 30 second stretch.
"It was big. Anytime you can get on runs like that it's big," Whalen said. "I felt like we really needed to get a little separation there... We just had to get a good lead going into halftime. I felt good... I felt aggressive. I just wanted to keep going."
The Lynx turned that into a 45-34 halftime lead. At the break, Whalen led all scorers with 18 points to go along with six rebounds. Moore finished with 17 points and five rebounds.
Center Sylvia Fowles led Chicago with 11 points and six rebounds, while Rookie of the Year candidate Elena Delle Donne had 10.
Chicago wasn’t able to gain any traction or momentum in the second half. Whenever the Sky attempted to go on a run, Minnesota had the answer. Chicago did get within six, trailing 59-53 with 1:48 left in the third, but thanks to 3-pointers from Whalen and Moore, Minnesota closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run.
That set the tone for the rest of the game and Minnesota closed out a 79-66 win in front of more than 9,600 screaming fans on Fan Appreciation Night.
Whalen was the leading scorer for the Lynx, finishing with 23 points, while adding six assists and six rebounds. Moore finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while shooting 4-of-6 from the 3-point line. Shooting guard Seimone Augustus finished with 14 points and Rebekkah Brunson had 10 rebounds.
Lynx center Janel McCarville had a sneaky-good game, finished with six points, eight rebounds and five assists while running all over the court.
The key going into the game was slowing down Fowles and Delle Donne and the Lynx did exactly that. The duo both scored 30 or more points in the last matchup, but this time, Fowles finished with 17 while Delle Donne finished with just 14. Shooting guard Epiphanny Prince finished with 10.
The Lynx now go into the playoffs with the overall No. 1 seed, gaining home court advantage throughout.
"Our record says we're the best team in the league, so we'll start there," Reeve said. "We have an understanding going into the playoffs that every game is going to be like tonight. It's going to be hard; things aren't going to go our way all the time... The way our schedule ended up being as hard as it was, was really important for us. It gives us a great, great mindset going into the playoffs.”
Leader of the Pack: Maya Moore
In the first quarter alone, Moore had 13 points. While she didn't scored the 52 points she was on pace to score, she had a very impressive all-around game and was just four assists away from a triple-double.
The incredible thing with Moore is that she doesn't force shots, but gets them in the flow of the offense.
"I'm just focused on making the best play for my team," Moore said. "...That's the beauty of our team, I can go off early and Whalen can go off and Augustus in the second half. It was a good offensive night."
Highlight of the Game
Just how they drew it up, right?
The Numbers Game
With the win, Minnesota finishes the season with a 26-8 record, which is the third straight season the Lynx have had the league’s best regular season. The Lynx are now 80-22 over the last three seasons, marking the second highest three-year aggregate win total in league history.
"Now the real fun begins." — Lynx assistant coach Shelley Patterson before heading into the locker room after the win.
Minnesota hosts the Seattle Storm (16-17) during Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will be on BOB 106.1 FM, NBATV and WNBA LiveAccess.
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