When the Phoenix Mercury ended their lengthy losing streak against the Minnesota Lynx over the weekend, coach Sandy Brondello predicted that Maya Moore would break out of her shooting slump.
Last year’s MVP of the WNBA finals wasted little time in proving her right.
Moore enters off a hot-shooting effort and she and the Lynx will look for revenge Wednesday night in Phoenix in this rematch of the Western Conference’s top teams.
Minnesota (9-3) swept Phoenix (7-3) in last year’s conference finals and in 2011, and had won 14 straight overall in this series before Sunday’s 80-72 loss. Diana Taurasi had 21 points, 11 assists and six boards as the Mercury cruised after building a 19-point halftime cushion.
Phoenix clamped down on Moore, who had 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting. That capped a four-game stretch in which Moore averaged 12.0 points on 31.1 percent shooting but Brondello warned that such play from the forward wouldn’t last.
"We’ll take any advantage we can get, but Maya is such a great player," Brondello said. "She’ll bounce back."
Moore bounced back in her next game with 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting Tuesday in a 94-77 victory at Los Angeles as Minnesota avoided a third straight loss and fourth in five games. She scored 16 points in the Lynx’s 32-point third quarter.
”I think we had a heightened focus on passing the ball, finding the person who has the greatest shot,” Moore said. ”A few times, especially in that third, I was a beneficiary of that great shot from my teammates driving, kicking and trapping on defense."
It was Moore’s highest-scoring effort since a career-high 38-point game May 23 at Tulsa. She took over the WNBA lead in scoring with 22.7 points per game.
Minnesota equaled a season high for points and set season highs for field goals (37) and field-goal percentage (64 percent). The Lynx had allowed 50 points by halftime in their back-to-back defeats before conceding 42 first-half points against the Sparks.
"Tonight, we got back in the right direction," Moore said. "That was Lynx basketball.”
Phoenix will try to replicate its balanced attack from Sunday in which four players scored in double figures. Candice Dupree had 18 points, 10 boards and five assists and Brittney Griner added 14 points.
A fast-paced tempo can be anticipated between the league’s highest scoring and best shooting teams. Phoenix averages 84.1 points and shoots 49.4 percent and Minnesota averages 83.8 points while shooting 47.7 percent.