LOS ANGELES (AP) Maya Moore wasn’t about to let the Minnesota Lynx lose a third straight game.
Moore scored 31 points to lead Minnesota to a 94-77 win against the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night. She had 16 of Minnesota’s 32 points in the third quarter as the Lynx (9-3) snapped a two-game losing streak and avoided their fourth loss in five games.
Moore shot 12-for-16 from the field in her highest scoring game since a career-high 38-point game last month.
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”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. I had four players on me, I was just trying to be aggressive and get to the rim, as well as knock down threes.”
Seimone Augustus scored 14 points and Lindsay Whalen had 12 points and seven assists for Minnesota, which equaled a season highs for points and set a season highs for field goals (37) and field-goal percentage (64 percent).
It was an important bounce back win for the Lynx, who began a stretch of three games in four days needing to get better defensively, particularly early after they allowed 50 points in the first half in each of the previous two games.
”Our staples for us defensively caught up with us,” Moore said. ”We’re trying to progress through the season defensively. It’s no secret. You’re not going to always outscore people every night. You’re going to have to figure out a way to get stops if you want to be a championship caliber team. That’s what got eliminated in those few games. We were losing by a possession or two and our poise on offense wasn’t where it needed to be. Tonight, we got back in the right direction. That was Lynx basketball.”
Alana Beard led the Sparks (3-7) with 18 points and Candace Parker had 16 points as Los Angeles lost four straight games for the first time since 2011. Nneka Ogwumike scored 13 points with eight rebounds for the Sparks, who never got within double digits in the second half.
The Sparks have allowed 94 and 101 points the past two games and remain in last place in the Western Conference. They held a lengthy postgame meeting.
”It’s a matter of individually and as a team, just putting it together and playing with a little bit more effort and heart,” Beard said. ”I can put all those things you want on the paper and tell us to do this and tell us to do that, but if we stop trusting each other and if we don’t put it all out there, nothing will come of it. Just continue to trust each other, and hopefully we’ll get back into this race.”
Moore scored Minnesota’s first 10 points of the second half as the Lynx outscored the Sparks, 32-15, in the third quarter. She sank two 3-pointers and scored on a drive and in the paint to give the Lynx a 78-57 lead. Tricia Liston made a 3-pointer and Devereaux Peters followed with a layup to push the lead to 85-57 after the third quarter.
The Lynx led 53-42 at halftime after Moore sank a 3-pointer from the right side in the final seconds to finish with 15 points in the first half. The 53 points were the most allowed in the first half this season by the Sparks, who rallied from 18 points down to six but got no closer.
The Sparks played their third straight game without starting guard Kristi Toliver, who is training with the Slovakian national team. WNBA president Laurel Richie attended the game.