Moore, Lynx beat Mercury 95-76 in opener
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Maya Moore had 27 points and a career-high 10 assists to help the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx open the season with a 95-76 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night.
The Lynx raised their banner prior to tip-off - celebrating their third championship in five years - but Moore downplayed the festivities.
''We were trying to stay ready and prepared throughout the ceremony,'' she said.
Moore is the player to have at least 20 points and 10 assists in a WNBA season opener.
The Lynx started to pull away in the second quarter, finishing the half with a 12-5 run to lead 52-42. Diana Taurasi's jumper pulled the Mercury within 60-53 midway through the third quarter, but Minnesota answered with a 13-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Seimone Augustus added 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting, Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and 14 rebounds for her 100th career double-double and Lindsay Whalen chipped in with 14.
Moore, Fowles, Augustus and Whalen made 33 of their 54 shots and the Lynx finished shooting 54 percent from the field.
Minnesota opened the season with the top ranking in the AP WNBA power poll, receiving 10 of the 14 first-place votes. Phoenix ranked second and garnered the other four votes for the top spot. The teams have met in the Western Conference Finals three straight years and four of the last five. The WNBA approved a new playoff format for its 20th season that will seed the top eight teams based on winning percentage, allowing same-conference rivals such as the Mercury and Lynx to potentially meet in the finals.
Taurasi led the Mercury with 18 points in her return. She sat out last season. She reunites a starting unit with Penny Taylor, Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree that is 30-3 for the Mercury. All three losses are against the Lynx.
Taylor scored 13 points, Griner added 12, and Bonner 10. Dupree logged her 10,000th career minute with the first two minutes of the game.