Lynx Rout Mercury 91-59
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Although it’s only still very early in the season, Sunday night’s game against the Phoenix Mercury had more on the line than Minnesota’s previous 10 games.
The Mercury started the game with an 8-4 record, just a half game back from the Lynx. The Los Angeles Sparks, who beat San Antonio 93-66 on Saturday and improved to 8-5, were also on Minnesota’s heels.
The Lynx, though, weren’t about to take the back seat in the Western Conference as they defeated the Mercury 91-59 on Sunday evening at the Target Center.
Talk about deja vu.
"You guys are going to write about first place, but we realize it means absolutely nothing," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Eleven games for us, 13 for them. It's a home game for us. It's really important that we come out and we give that type of effort we did tonight."
Lynx shooting guard Seimone Augustus led the way early on, scoring a game-high eight points in the first quarter while shooting 4-for-5 from the field.
Unfortunately, Augustus would leave the game early in the second quarter after injuring her left ankle while trying to defend a DeWanna Bonner shot. She did not return.
It was up to other players on the squad to step up and they did exactly that.
Forward Maya Moore and guard Monica Wright stepped up big for the Lynx.
Coming out of half, Moore was struggling, scoring just four points while shooting 1-for-6 from the field. Whatever happened at halftime proved to be beneficial as Moore scored 19 points in the second half while shooting 7-for-11.
Wright was consistent all-game long, and finished with 17 points off the bench to go along with three steals.
Point guard Lindsay Whalen had another stellar game, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Janel McCarville, for the third time this season, played great against Phoenix center Brittney Griner. In fact, McCarville ended up with 11 points compared to Griner's six. McCarville also had a blocked shot while she helped hold Griner shoot 4-for-10 from the field.
Mercury forward Candice Dupree was the only player from Phoenix to hit the double-digit mark in points as she finished with 12 points.
The Lynx now sit at 8-3 on the season and have won 14 straight games at home. They have also 10 of the last 11 games against Phoenix. Minnesota sits a half game ahead of the Los Angeles Sparks (8-4) in the Western Conference. Phoenix (8-5) sits two games back.
Leader of the Pack: Maya Moore
Moore didn't have a great first half, but she knew how important it was to step up with the absence of Augustus.
Like fans have seen all season, Moore found her rhythm fast, finishing with 23 points, four rebounds and five assists while going 3-for-6 from the 3-point line. Moore has now scored 20 or more points in six of the team's 11 games.
She's not only making a strong case to start in the WNBA All-Star Game, but also to be the league's MVP.
"That's a player that has great pride in what she's doing," Reeve said. "We needed Maya in a big way in the second half to make up for Seimone's absence and she did that."
Highlight of the Game
We are going to cheat here. Instead of doing a play of the game, we will instead break down Augustus' short time on the court. In only 11 minutes and 43 seconds, Augustus finished 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal while shooting 4-for-5 from the field. In fact, she scored eight of the team's first 13 points, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
It's not known how much time she'll miss, but the Lynx do have three games this week. Reeve said more information will be available tomorrow.
The Numbers Game
The Lynx led 39-29 at halftime mostly due to phenomenal defense. Minnesota held Phoenix to 13-for-40 from the field in the first half.
Two of Phoenix’s best players, guard Diana Taurasi and Griner, finished with just two points each while shooting 1-for-8 from the field.
Taurasi hasn't been held to single digits points all season, entering the game with a league-high 23 points per game.
The Lynx caused nine turnovers, had four steals and four blocked shots.
Minnesota certainly cooled off a Mercury club that had won five straight games coming into the night. Phoenix scored 83 or more points in each one of those wins. Some say the best offense is a good defense. That seemed to work out pretty well for Minnesota.
"Being the aggressor to start off the game is always a plus when it comes to the ref game, the officiating game. We want to do that every game." — Lynx shooting guard Monica Wright on the Lynx shooting 35 free throws compared to the Mercury's five.
Looking Ahead The Lynx will battle the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The game will be at the Target Center and will be aired on ESPN2 and can be heard on 106.1 BOB FM. It’s the team’s first game against the Dream this season. The Dream have high aspirations this season, starting the season with a league-best 10-1 record. The Lynx defeated the Dream in 2011 for the WNBA Championship.
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