MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With star guard Seimone Augustus shelved due to knee problems, Minnesota Lynx opponents can focus more attention on Maya Moore. And Moore is giving them plenty to watch out for.
Feeling frustrated through three quarters Tuesday, Moore showed the reasons she was the top vote-getter among WNBA All-Stars, leading the Lynx with 30 points as they beat the Los Angeles Sparks 82-72. Moore scored 16 of those points in a frantic final 10 minutes, as Minnesota overcame a three-point deficit and cruised.
Lindsay Whalen added 16 points for Minnesota (14-6) which improved to 8-1 at Target Center.
"Whenever one door is closed, you try to find another open one, and tonight it was in the paint, for everyone," said Moore, who missed all six shots from 3-point range entering the fourth quarter, then switched to driving the lane. "Our guards did a great job of being aggressive in the paint and our post did a great job of finding us in there."
Shantel Lavender had 17 points and Candace Parker added 16 for Los Angeles (7-11), which led 59-56 entering the fourth quarter, only to see Minnesota take over the game.
"Way too much Maya Moore in the fourth quarter," said Sparks coach Carol Ross. "We didn’t have an answer and that’s when you’ve got to be at your best. Great players rise up in fourth quarters and big moments, and I thought she hit some very timely shots."
The Sparks closed the third quarter on a 9-0 run, but saw their momentum fade in the fourth despite a pronounced dominance in rebounding throughout. Nneka Ogwumike led all rebounders with 14 for the Sparks, who lost their second game in a row.
"We had 20 more shots than they did, so I’d like to think next time we’d shoot a little bit better and execute down the stretch," said Parker, who was also voted an All-Star starter. "It was a four-point game with six minutes left, so despite all that we just didn’t take control."
Minnesota led 48-42 at halftime thanks to a dozen points from Whalen and a surprising boost from rookie Tricia Liston, who had eight points, including a pair of three-pointers. For Los Angeles, Lavender often was open under the basket and led all Sparks with a dozen points after 20 minutes. The Lynx struggled with offensive rebounds all night, but their coach was able to smile and brush those troubles aside.
"We could sit here and talk about offensive rebounds if you want to. We’re going to look the other way on it. That’s the only thing we didn’t get done today," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "I just really liked when we got down by three how we responded in that moment. The bottom didn’t fall out and we got tough-minded as a group."
Augustus, dealing with bursitis in her left knee, missed her fourth consecutive game. Los Angeles guard Candice Wiggins returned Tuesday for the first time since the season opener on May 16. Wiggins had missed 16 games after having surgery on her left knee. She played 13 minutes and finished with two points.