Lynx 94, Dream 72
Minnesota turned a meeting of the best teams in the WNBA into a mismatch.
Monica Wright, playing in the place of injured star Seimone Augustus, scored a season-high 22 points to help the Lynx rout Atlanta on Tuesday night.
Lindsay Whalen added 20 points for Minnesota (9-3), which never trailed and extended its home winning streak to 15 games.
“(Wright) was great and it’s not a surprise to us when she steps into the starting lineup and does this for us,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. “She was really pleased with her defense and her overall game. And this game was for Seimone.”
Angel McCoughtry scored 16 points to lead Atlanta (10-2), which was playing for the first time in July. The Dream had a night filled with uncharacteristic defensive lapses, losing for the first time since June 9. They entered the game as the league’s top defensive team only to see Minnesota shoot better than 60 percent in the first half. The 94 points were the most surrendered by Atlanta this season.
“It must have been (rust). We missed a lot of shots,” McCoughtry said. “It’s just one of those things where we’ll get it again. We’ll be all right. We’re still number one in the league, and you can’t take anything away from this team with the way we’ve played so far.”
Augustus suffered a sprained left ankle in Minnesota’s home win over Phoenix on Sunday. Reeve said Augustus will travel with the team on their four-game road trip to Indiana, Tulsa, San Antonio and Phoenix, but gave no timetable for her return to the court. In the Lynx locker room, the message was clear that this win was for Augustus.
“Any time one of our teammates goes down, we take it upon ourselves to do more,” Wright said. “Those are tough shoes to fill. We wanted to make sure we got that win for her tonight.”
Minnesota got 17 first half points from Moore and another 16 from Whalen to lead 56-39 at the break. Moore hit six of her seven shots in the first 20 minutes, including a trio of three-pointers as Minnesota led by as many as 19. The 56 points was the most allowed in a half by the Dream this season. Sancho Lyttle led Atlanta with nine points in the first half, as the Dream shot just 38 percent before halftime.
“I told the team before that this would be a game where we’d have to learn from some experiences, and that’s one,” Dream coach Fred Williams said. “You had a playoff-type atmosphere with the crowd, and with our younger players, they’re getting some experience dealing with that. We’re just going to build on it and keep on moving.”
Atlanta, which had won six in a row coming into the meeting with the Lynx, had not played a game since June 30. There was some debate on Tuesday about whether the layoff would be extended, as a water main break adjacent to Target Center left the arena with no water until just a few hours before the game.
Liberty 66, Storm 57
Plenette Pierson scored nine of her 22 points in the fourth quarter as New York recovered after giving up nearly all of a 19-point lead in the third quarter and beat Seattle.
Cappie Pondexter had 13 points for New York (6-7), which had lost three straight and five of the last six.
Tina Thompson scored 13 points and Tanisha Wright added 12 for the Storm (5-8), losers of five of their last six. Seattle lost three of four on a road swing against Eastern Conference teams.
After Toni Young's jumper in the opening possession of the third quarter extended the Liberty's lead to 38-19, the Storm went on a 20-2 run to pull within a point on Alysha Clark's layup with 2:58 remaining in the period.
Pondexter made two free throws 14 seconds later and Pierson followed with a bank shot less than 30 seconds later to push the lead back to five.
Noelle Quinn's 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth pulled Seattle within three, and the Liberty scored the next seven points to extend the margin to 10 on Pondexter's layup with 7:45 remaining. Seattle got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Two days after a 29-point loss at home to Chicago, the Liberty got off to a fast start against the Storm, using runs of 11-0 and 9-0 to lead by 17 at the end of the first quarter.
New York increased the margin to 19 in the second quarter before taking a 36-19 lead at halftime.
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