Lynx look to build upon stellar start
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nothing is coming easy for the Minnesota Lynx, yet they keep winning.
Minnesota led by 26 points midway through the third quarter, but had to hang on to beat San Antonio 83-79 Sunday night.
Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson each scored 17 points, and Lindsay Whalen had 15 points and seven assists for the Lynx (7-0). Seimone Augustus added 13 points.
It is the sixth time in league history that a team has won at least seven straight to start the season. Los Angeles holds the league record, starting 9-0 in 2001 and 2003. It is also a franchise-best 10th straight regular season win for the Lynx.
“We’re just trying to focus on the next shootaround, the next game,” Whalen said.
They’ll also closely review a second half that nearly resulted in a colossal collapse.
Minnesota led by 26 points midway through the third quarter, but a putback and 3-pointer by Danielle Adams keyed an 11-2 San Antonio run at the end of the third quarter to get San Antonio within 67-53. Adams scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Silver Stars (2-3), who have lost seven straight regular season games to Minnesota. Jia Perkins, another non-starter, had 16 points and Sophia Young 14. The Silver Stars bench scored 48 points.
“We got more aggressive and then we got more cohesive,” said San Antonio coach Dan Hughes. “It’s amazing what you start to do if you start doing things hard and together. Then the momentum changed. Momentum is a very delicate thing.”
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve credited the Silver Stars for playing “more freely,” but remains puzzled why her team failed to match an opponent’s intensity. “We’re not going to watch the first half, we’re going to watch the second half.”
Back-to-back jumpers by Perkins got the Silver Stars within 77-70 with 1:35 to play, but Brunson countered down low for the Lynx. After Adams hit a 3-pointer to make it 79-73 with 40.7 seconds to go, Augustus missed a pair of free throws and Adams scored on a baseline drive with 30.5 seconds left. Down 81-77, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon was fouled outside the arc with 1.2 seconds left. She made her first two free throws, but the Silver Stars were called for a lane violation as Hammon tried to intentionally miss a third.
“Just the ability to finish off an opponent is something we’re trying to find our way through,” Reeve said. “We had some good moments, but we’re just disappointed it became a game.”
The game was nearly a refreshing change of late for the defending league champions who also found themselves in close games the previous two outings.
Keyed by a 13-2 fourth-quarter run, the Lynx won 85-72 at Connecticut Friday, two days after Whalen scored with 1 second remaining to win at Washington 79-77. Minnesota led by 24 points in the third quarter of that game.
“We’re going to have to clean it up; we’re not going to just rest on `Yeah, we got the win,” said Moore. “When we play at our best we feel unstoppable, and we still haven’t played at our best.”
She scored 13 of her 15 first-half points in the second frame as Minnesota opened up a 50-29 halftime lead.
Moore hit three jumpers, and scored from down low during a 15-4 run — capped by an Augustus 3-pointer — to give the Lynx a 24-point cushion late in the quarter.
Minnesota, which entered the game shooting a league-best 52.2 percent, shot 68.8 percent in the first half. San Antonio shot just 30.6 percent. Minnesota finished with 53 percent; San Antonio 38.4 percent.
Hammon made a 3-pointer from near half court to end the first half.
“We knew how bad we were playing. I think it came down to having some pride,” Perkins said. “We didn’t want to come in here and get blown out like we can’t play basketball.”