Lynx unbeaten and unanimous No. 1 in AP WNBA power poll
NEW YORK (AP) New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer wasn't exactly sure how his team would play with Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn out of the lineup.
The Liberty have used a collective effort to go 4-0 while the two players are at the EuroBasket tournament. New York has gotten contributions from Kiah Stokes, Shavonte Zellous, Sugar Rodgers, Bria Hartley and recently signed Lindsay Allen to complement Tina Charles' play.
''I'd take it all day long. You just don't know what's going to happen when you lose players like that. Give this group we have right here all the credit in the world; they're playing together,'' Laimbeer said after a recent New York victory over Seattle. ''They understand themselves, they're learning, they're getting better every day. We still have a long way to go obviously. We have a lot of room for improvement individually and collectively but they like each other and they're playing well with each other.''
The Liberty climbed to fourth in The Associated Press WNBA power poll this week.
New York plays on the road at Connecticut and Dallas this week.
POWER POLL: Minnesota still is dominating the league while there is a log-jam for the next few spots. A look at this week's WNBA poll.
1. Minnesota (9-0): At home or on the road it doesn't seem to make a difference to the Lynx. They are the best team in the league by far. They have a light week with just one home game against Connecticut.
2. Washington (7-3): When the Mystics have Elena Delle Donne playing they are tough to beat. The one game she missed against Minnesota, the Mystics were blown out.
3. Los Angeles (5-3): The Sparks will look for a measure of revenge against Dallas, which beat Los Angeles at home last week.
4. New York (6-3): A 4-1 homestand was a pleasant surprise. Rebounding has been a major reason why the Liberty have been successful. Tina Charles and Kiah Stokes became fourth teammates in league history to each have 15-plus rebounds in a game.
5. Seattle (5-4): A return to the Emerald City should cure the woes that the Storm suffered on the road in losses at Indiana and New York.
6. Phoenix (5-4): Brittney Griner is virtually unstoppable right now. The problem is that she's getting little help offensively besides from Diana Taurasi.
7. Atlanta (4-4): A bi-coastal road trip continues in Seattle. The Dream will be hard-pressed to end a three-game skid.
8. Dallas (4-6): The Wings will try and follow up an impressive home win over the Sparks by winning one in Los Angeles now.
9. Indiana (4-6): A nice win over Seattle was followed up by a disappointing performance against Phoenix. Pokey Chatman's team is still looking for consistency.
10. Connecticut (3-5): Two straight wins may not seem like a lot to some teams, but when the Sun are scrapping for every victory they can it means a lot.
11. Chicago (2-7): The Sky won the battle between the bottom teams in the league. They'll have a tougher time this week against Phoenix and Indiana.
12. San Antonio (0-9): A valiant effort against Chicago fell short. San Antonio is still looking for its first victory of the season and heads out to Los Angeles and Seattle.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Mercury at Sparks, Sunday. It's always fun when these rivals meet and Diana Taurasi has a tendency to put on a show when she plays in Los Angeles. She's only 29 points short of the league's all-time scoring record and with two games this week has a good chance to break it against Los Angeles.
AUDIENCE WITH THE KING: LeBron James said after the Cavaliers lost Game 5 to the Golden State Warriors that he would be watching WNBA games this summer while he relaxed.
STATS OF THE WEEK: The Liberty lead wire-to-wire in consecutive games this week, marking the first time since 1999 that New York had done that. That streak ended on Sunday against Seattle. ... Minnesota was the first time in WNBA history to have consecutive games with 30 or more assists according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen moved past Swin Cash to become the winningest player in WNBA history Friday night as the Minnesota Lynx eased by the short-handed Washington Mystics 98-73. Whalen now has 296 victories in 13 seasons.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tina Charles, Liberty and Sylvia Fowles, Lynx. For the first time there were co-players of the week, with Charles and Fowles both putting up impressive numbers. New York's center averaged 19.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists to help New York go 2-0. Fowles continued her hot start to the season, averaging 25.5 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 assists as Minnesota went 2-0 as well. Fowles shot 70.5 percent from the field. Phoenix's Brittney Griner was the only other player to receive a vote this week.
To see the poll online and how the pollster voted: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-5
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