Moore Collects 22 As Lynx Run Past Mercury, 99-79
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Whoever came up with the term "team basketball" would have been thrilled after witnessing Thursday night's game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Phoenix Mercury.
At the Target Center in front of 8,511 fans, the Lynx had a franchise-high 30 assists on their way to a 99-79 dominating win over the Sun.
Watching the Lynx play would make any coach pleased and the team always seemed to make the extra pass or cut to the basket when needed.
"That's the one thing we talk about with our team," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "We don't feel like we ever need to take a contested shot. We're a good enough team that when we cut hard and screen for each other and keep the ball moving from side to side, we will get a good shot... I thought we just cut really hard and had some highlight reel types of plays."
Throughout the week, the main storyline was rookie center Brittany Griner coming to town, but by the end of Thursday's game, that story wasn't all that relevant. Griner had a so-so game, finishing with 16 points and five rebounds. The main story was Lynx reserve forward Amber Harris who played a career-high 30 minutes while somewhat shutting down the No. 1 pick.
The Lynx highest lead was 35 points which came in the third quarter. Every player on Minnesota's roster finished with at least one point. Moore led the way with 22 points, while Seimone Augustus added 19. Harris and Monica Wright finished with a combined 29 points off the bench.
For Phoenix, guard Diana Taurasi led the way with 21 points while DeWanna Bonner added 18, most coming at the end of the game.
Leader of the pack Ė Maya Moore and Amber Harris
She only played 23 minutes, but Moore made her presence from the get go.
For the second consecutive game, Moore was lights out in the first half. The third-year player finished with 19 points off 6-of-11 shooting and was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line at the break
"I don't know if she goes into the game thinking jump start the team," Reeve said. "I think she's just being aggressive and taking what comes to her... She's certainly been coming out early and it's been pretty effective."
Moore finished with a team-high 22 points and was 7-of-16 from the field and 3-of-5 from the 3-point line. She also added three assists and two rebounds. Last Saturday against the Connecticut Sun, Moore finished with 26 points. Many have asked if Moore has taken her game to the next level. It appears if that is exactly is whatís happening. Her defense was also sound as she dominated Bonner early on. Bonner had just five points at the break.
When Moore wasn't scoring, it was Harris, who finished with a career-high 18 points off the bench to go along with six rebounds.
Her main strength was on the defensive side of the ball, as she blocked three shots, two of them coming against Griner.
"She got the game ball. We were all pretty proud of her," Reeve said. "I told her early on I don't want her to go straight up, I want her to compete and go for the block... Her minutes were really limited for two seasons, it was kind of by design to bring her along, she's been patient and now she's making the most of it."
Highlight of the Game
The high-flying center in this game was supposed to be Griner. That wasnít exactly the case midway through the third quarter when point guard Lindsay Whalen found a cutting Harris for an alley-oop layup with Griner guarding her.
Fans erupted. Whalen finished with eight points, 10 assists, four rebounds and a steal.
They Lynx were so dominant in so many different categories; weíre not sure where to begin here.
Letís begin when the Lynx started to pull away: the first quarter. Itís still not easy to pick just one stat, so weíll roll with them all. The Lynx shot 14-of-21 in the opening quarter for a sizzling 66.7 percent to result for 32 points. They were 4-of-6 from the 3-point line and had 11 total assists, six of them coming from Whalen. Nine total players scored, with Moore leading the way with eight points.
The Mercury on the other hand? Not so impressive. The Mercury scored just 16 points, shooting 7-for-17 from the field and 1-for-5 from the 3-point line. No player on the team had more than one assist and they had just three in the quarter.
Itís safe to say the Lynx set the tone in the first quarter.
Lynx center Janel McCarville fouled Griner while she was going up for a dunk. In the press conference Reeve was asked how important it was to McCarville to not let Griner dunk:
"No she didn't (want Griner to dunk), and I appreciate the heck out of that. Not in our house," Reeve said with a laugh.
The Lynx will travel to play the Washington Mystics on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be aired on 106.1 BOB FM.
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