Lynx-Storm Preview

The Minnesota Lynx rode Seimone Augustus to a strong start to the season. After their star forward went down with a knee injury in their last game, they didn't fare so well.

With the news Augustus will not return in 2009, the club will need to learn how to compensate for her absence.

After learning Augustus is out for the season, the Lynx will try to rebound from a blowout loss with a road game against the Seattle Storm on Friday night.

Augustus averaged 23.4 points and shot a league-best 57.0 percent while helping Minnesota (4-2) to four wins in its first five games. The reigning Western Conference player of the week had nine points in 13-plus minutes Wednesday night before leaving with what was originally called a sprained left knee.

Earlier Friday, the diagnosis grew far worse. Augustus will miss the rest of the season with a torn left ACL. The team said a date for the surgery has not been set.

Lynx executive vice president Roger Griffith called it an unfortunate situation, but added he has confidence that the players will "step up and continue our early season success.''

The Lynx failed to step up without their two-time All-Star on Wednesday. They were outscored 65-47 after Augustus' departure en route to a 104-80 loss at Phoenix.

"We had 30 points go down on the floor and she had been the go-to player all season," said coach Jennifer Gillom, whose club was outrebounded 48-29 and had only nine assists to the Mercury's 25. "It was hard to make that adjustment at the end."

The Lynx hope to have more success against the Storm, who are coming off a frustrating defeat of their own. Seattle (3-2) used a 12-0 run to take a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, but got outscored 15-6 over the final 6:19 of its 64-57 loss at Chicago on Sunday.

"I think we're having a bit of an identity crisis right now," said guard Sue Bird, who was held to nine points and 3-for-11 shooting. "Every other game we seem to have energy to start and that's something that you have to have constantly, especially in this league. ... We picked it up and were able to make it into a game but had we played like that the whole game, who knows what would have happened."

The loss to the Sky was the fifth game in nine days for the Storm, who have since had four days to recuperate.

Sunday's defeat overshadowed another strong performance from two-time league MVP Lauren Jackson. The 6-foot-5 forward scored 22 points - topping 20 for the fifth time in as many games this season - and added eight rebounds.

Jackson scored 34 points and went 15 for 22 from the field in one game against Minnesota last season, when Seattle swept the three-game series between the clubs. The Storm have defeated the Lynx six straight times in Seattle since an 86-81 defeat June 15, 2005.

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