Moore leads league-best Lynx into meeting vs. Liberty (Jul 24, 2017)

BY AP • July 24, 2017

Fresh off an All-Star MVP performance, Maya Moore leads the Minnesota Lynx into the second half of the season as the No. 1 team in the league with a sparkling 16-2 record and a three-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Sparks.

Moore and fellow Lynx All-Stars Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson welcome fellow All-Stars Tina Charles and Sugar Rodgers and the New York Liberty on Tuesday to Xcel Energy Center.

While the four Lynx stars enjoyed showcasing their talents with the best of the WNBA, they kept one eye focused on the larger team goal.

"It's almost like there wasn't a break for us because we were together," Moore said of being around her teammates and coaches. "Just continuing to build these memories and continue to build momentum with my teammates and coaches. It's just one more thing we were able to do together to bring it into the second half of the season."

Minnesota closed out the first half on a much different note than the Liberty. The Lynx start second-half play on a three-game win streak

The Liberty stumbled into the All-Star break, splitting their last six games. Offensive struggles forced coach Bill Laimbeer to shake up his starting lineup. Bria Hartley moved into the lineup, Epiphany Prince slid over to the shooting guard spot and Rodgers provided a needed spark off the bench.

Laimbeer was proven correct when the Liberty beat the Mystics on July 16 and the bench erupted for 41 points.

"We know we're a good team," Charles said. "At times, it's just we still have to figure it out.

"A lot of teams are able to figure it out at the beginning of the season, they have experience like in Minnesota and L.A., and then you have teams that are still figuring it out along the way and that's where we are."

But it does look like Charles and company have figured things out after winning their final two games before the All-Star break.

"The structure that we have right now is good for us," Laimbeer said. "We're pushing the pace better. We're getting easier baskets. We have good role definition."

Now comes a brutal stretch of five games on the road for the Liberty, with the Lynx being the first hurdle.

When these teams meet, the marquee matchup is always Moore vs. Charles.

Charles is playing at an MVP level, averaging 20.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Moore is as steady as ever, averaging 15.7 points and 3.8 assists per game. Her surrounding cast is second-to-none in the WNBA.

Fowles is a serious MVP candidate, averaging 20.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Augustus is averaging 11.6 points and Brunson is right behind at 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Tuesday's game is the second of three meetings this season between the Liberty and Lynx. Minnesota took the first game 90-71 on May 18.

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