Cheryl Reeve’s bedazzled outfit sparkled under the Mohegan Sun Arena spotlights. Maya Moore did the worm, while Rebekkah Brunson performed the Bernie. Seimone Augustus smiled and waved for a packed venue and a national television audience.
Then, they played a basketball game.
The Minnesota Lynx stole much of the show during the made-for-TV, grow-the-women’s-game spectacle known better as the WNBA All-Star Game. With three starters, one reserve and Reeve and her coaching staff all representing the victorious Western Conference, it would’ve been difficult for them not to.
Smiles, laughs, no-look passes, some face time and, on the side, a 102-98 victory that actually looked a bit competitive in the second half in Uncasville, Conn.
“Any time you step on the court, you want to win,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said during ABC’s postgame coverage.
But, despite her noticeable defensive efforts that drew a team-high two personal fouls, Moore’s favorite part of her third All-Star experience was simply being around the league’s top players in a friendly, fun environment.
“We don’t often get a chance to be together all at one time,” Moore said. “I was blessed last year to have an Olympic experience similar to this, but this is double.”
Moore led the way among the quartet of Lynx players reappearing in the All-Star Game, scoring 14 points, pulling down five rebounds and dishing out three assists. And even in just 18 minutes, 16 seconds of playing time — about 10 minutes less than her regular-season average — forward Rebekkah Brunson had a very Rebekkah Brunson-like game: an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Brunson started in place of injured Brittney Griner, giving Minnesota three starters for the first time in franchise history. Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen were there, too, in a mirror image of the 2011 All-Star Game (the event took a one-year hiatus for the Olympics last year).
But for the first time since the Lynx’s core of four joined forces in Minneapolis under Reeve, the coach was on the All-Star sideline with them, by virtue of Minnesota’s conference title last season.
A fan-voted starter along with Moore, Augustus scored 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting and played the game’s final minutes as the West outlasted the Eastern Conference, which led by six at halftime. Whalen, voted in by the Western Conference coaches as a reserve, received the fewest minutes (13:09) among Lynx players and scored eight points.
Reeve put all four of them on the floor for the first quarter’s latter half, allowing them to work alongside game MVP Candace Parker (All-Star-record 23 points) and then retiring legend Tina Thompson, the first overall college pick in the inaugural WNBA Draft in 1997.
During her pregame speech, Reeve paid homage to Thompson, thanking her for “all she’s done for our game.”
Thompson announced before the season that it would be her last in the WNBA.
“We wanted to get the win for her and make sure she goes out in her last All-Star Game with a W,” Moore said.
Minnesota, whose 14-3 record is the league’s best, is off until Monday and commences the second half of the season Friday at the Target Center against San Antonio.