The Minnesota Lynx picked up a key victory in their pursuit of another first-place finish in the Western Conference. They might not have two starters for the rest of the regular season, however.
Lindsay Whalen will likely join Seimone Augustus on the sidelines beginning with Friday night’s home game against the Indiana Fever.
Minnesota (20-10) is 2 1/2 games ahead of Phoenix and three up in the loss column after a 71-61 victory over the Mercury on Sunday. Maya Moore scored 28 points in the opener of a season-high four-game homestand to help the Lynx overcome Whalen’s absence in the second half.
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Whalen was forced to leave in the second quarter because of nagging bursitis in her right heel and a sore Achilles tendon. Coach Cheryl Reeve said Tuesday that she was "hopeful" that the point guard and Augustus, out since Aug. 19 because of a left foot injury, could return for the playoffs.
The Lynx clinched home-court advantage for the opening round with Sunday’s victory and are seeking their fourth No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs in five years.
"We’re not going to feel sorry that Lindsay or Seimone won’t be out there with them. The mindset is just like it was against Phoenix. They’re out so we have to step up," Reeve said. "They’re all good enough to do so as we saw during that Phoenix game.
"The mindset is we’re going to win four games. We’re working to get ready for the game on Friday and win our home game."
Renee Montgomery, acquired from Seattle on July 20, and Anna Cruz will likely have greater roles for the short term. Montgomery had 15 points Sunday, her most since scoring 19 in her season debut June 6.
"When you get minutes, you want to try and make the most of them and that was my mindset the whole time," Montgomery told the team’s official website. "I feel like this is the time where I need to step up, my team needs me."
Whalen had a team-best 17 points in the first matchup with Indiana, a 78-69 road victory June 6 in the second game of the season for both teams. The Fever (18-12) played without Tamika Catchings due to a knee injury.
Catchings got a little rest Tuesday with Indiana blowing out Connecticut 81-51 to clinch a league-record 11th consecutive playoff berth. She scored a team-high 13 points in 21 minutes after topping 20 in the final two games of the Fever’s three-game losing streak.
"We’re not done yet," Catchings said. "We’ve got four more games so we have to really ride that wave and propel ourselves into the playoffs."
Minnesota has won the last five matchups in the series.