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Liberty use fourth quarter burst to beat Lynx 70-61

By By DOUG FEINBERG

NEW YORK (AP) Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said all season that come August he'll know a lot more about his team.

Right now, New York is one of the best teams in the WNBA, winning five straight, including victories over the top three teams in the league.

''We said all along that we'd have a better idea of who we are this month,'' Laimbeer said before his team beat the Minnesota Lynx 70-61 on Sunday. ''Everyone is accepting their roles.''

Tina Charles scored 19 points and Epiphanny Prince added 15 to lead New York. Despite the winning streak and clinching a postseason berth for the third straight year, Charles took a more cautious approach to the win over the top-seeded Lynx.

''I don't think it says anything. I think we should have been playing like that since May. I don't get too high on games,'' she said. ''If you want a big ole jumping up and down, you can ask anyone that's not me. Anything can happen in the playoffs.''

The Liberty had the third best record in the league last season and lost in their playoff opener.

New York (17-12) trailed by 11 in the first half before cutting its deficit to five at the break. The Liberty took the lead for good in the third quarter on two free throws by Sugar Rodgers with 40 seconds left in the period.

Minnesota was down 47-46 early in the fourth before New York scored 15 of the next 17 points to take control.

''We stopped scoring. Give New York credit for their defense,'' Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''They were pretty turned up with their physicality and pressure they were putting on. Ordinarily we're a team that can make you pay for that and we didn't get it done.''

Maya Moore scored 22 points to lead the Lynx (22-6), who were missing starters Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson to injuries.

The Lynx and Liberty players locked arms in a giant circle with members of the NYPD and Covenant House at center court before the game in a show of unity during the national anthem. This contest was billed as unity game to help promote social awareness toward racial inequalities. The Liberty hosted an hour long panel before the game with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality.

INJURY BUG: Minnesota has been hampered by injuries over the last few weeks. Whalen has been sidelined with a fractured bone in her left hand since Aug. 4. She was working out before the game.

''It's getting better and is on pace,'' Whalen told the AP after the game. ''I trust the doctors and will get back on the court when they say I can.''

Brunson sprained her left ankle on Wednesday and missed her second game. She wasn't with the team, rehabbing it in Minnesota.

RETIREMENT: Minnesota Lynx forward Plenette Pierson will retire after the season. The two-time WNBA champion came into the league in 2003 and won titles with Detroit in 2006 and 2008. She's played for six different teams and earned the league's sixth woman of the year honor in 2007.

UP NEXT:

LYNX: Hosts Phoenix on Tuesday.

LIBERTY: Visits Indiana on Wednesday.

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