MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After a rocky midseason stretch, Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve believes the defending-champion Lynx have just started to play their best basketball.
Maya Moore scored 32 points and the Lynx handed the Tulsa Shock their fifth straight loss with a 93-82 win on Wednesday afternoon.
”A strong, strong testament to how good Lindsay (Whalen) and Maya are to be sitting here at 17-6,” Reeve said. ”With all we’ve been through, it’s a testament to the leadership of Lindsay and Maya.”
After a .500 record across a 12-game stretch in late June and early July, the Lynx have now won four straight heading into the All-Star break this weekend – but the Shock (7-15) didn’t make it easy.
The Lynx jumped out to double-digit leads in the first, second and third quarters, but saw them each erased by the Shock’s efficient offense. Led by second-year player Skylar Diggins’ 19 points, the Shock were plagued by 16 turnovers, which led to fast-break opportunities and 26 points for Minnesota.
Moore, the WNBA’s leading scorer, continued her MVP-like season as she was one of six Lynx players to score in double figures. With her team’s lead dwindling to as little as three points, Moore scored 12 of her points in the fourth quarter.
The Lynx never trailed.
”Maya’s the Michael Jordan of this league,” Shock coach Fred Williams said. ”When you have guards and players like her and Whalen, they make a lot of great plays together. But we learned a lot from this game.”
Whalen, who was announced as an All-Star reserve on Tuesday, commanded a Minnesota offense that shot 49 percent from the field and produced 21 assists – on par with their league-leading 20 assists per game. She’ll be joined by teammates Moore), Seimone Augustus and coach Reeve at the All-Star game on Saturday.
”When we can get the rebound secured, we can push,” Moore said. ”We have great athletes on this team. Lindsay Whalen, she’s hockey like, the way she runs and feels the floor.”
Even though the Shock got efficient offense out of their starters – Diggins, Glory Johnson, Odyssey Sims and Courtney Paris combined to shoot 44 percent – they failed to capitalize when the score drew close.
Tulsa pulled within 77-74 with four minutes left in the game before a 15-6 run by the Lynx put the game away. Lynx guard Monica Wright had three of her career-high five steals in the final four minutes.
”We had that stretch where we were a .500 ball club for 12 games,” Reeve said. ”We’re not accustom to that. Twelve games is a long time for us to be mediocre. I think we’re on the other side of that, and our trajectory is upward. We haven’t peaked.”
Minnesota overcame the absence of Augustus for the seventh straight game as she sat out with bursitis in her left knee. Rebekkah Brunson also continued to sit and rehab her right knee after May surgery has kept her out all season.
The Lynx plan on both Brunson and Augustus returning to the lineup at some point after the All-Star break.
”We know what we need to do for those next 11 games,” Reeve said. ”Without the shortcomings, we may not have known that.”
The Lynx hosted thousands of children for their annual Camp Day at the Target Center. Minnesota announced 16,413 in attendance, setting a regular-season franchise record.