This Week in the WNBA
06/02/2014 12:36 PM
06/02/2014 12:39 PM
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Lynx are again off to a strong start to the WNBA season.
The Lynx set a WNBA record in 2012 with 10 consecutive wins to begin the season and are closing in on that mark, needing only three more victories to tie that superlative start.
Coach Cheryl Reeve's squad has been impressive during the undefeated run, but it has not been dominant. The Lynx have won only one of their last six games by a double-digit margin, as they seem to be drawing the best effort from the opposition on a nightly basis.
"I think every game is going to go down to the wire," said Reeve following Friday's victory over San Antonio, the first of a home-and-home weekend sweep of the Stars.
One statistic that has undeniably had a paramount impact for Minnesota is Maya Moore's league-leading average of 27.6 points per game. Moore finished with 18 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double in Sunday's 87-79 win over San Antonio. Seimone Augustus led all scorers with 25 points, while Lindsay Whalen stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 10 assists and six boards.
Chicago bounced back from its only setback of the season -- last Monday's 75-72 loss against Minnesota -- with a 101-82 rout of Connecticut on Friday. The Sun received 20 points off the bench from Kelsey Bone and star rookie Chiney Ogwumike notched another double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, but Elena Delle Donne poured in a season-high 28 points to spearhead the charge for the Sky. Courtney Vandersloot was held scoreless in the victory, but dealt out 13 assists and holds a commanding lead among all players with 9.0 assists per game.
Indiana went 2-0 last week and has won three straight to climb back to the .500 mark after its 0-3 start. The Fever spoiled the return of Katie Douglas to Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 14-point win over Connecticut on Thursday before going on to defeat New York, 70-66, on Saturday. Briann January has been on fire, converting all seven of her attempts from beyond the arc and 11- of-12 shots at the free-throw line over Indiana's last two games. The former Arizona State point guard also handed out seven assists and recorded four steals versus the Liberty.
"We have plenty of scorers on this team," said January. "There's no need for me to shoot any extra or any more or press for shots. We're going to work to get the best shot for our team."
The Mystics are also on a roll, as they sit in second place in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to back-to-back wins over New York (68-60) and Los Angeles (92-84). Washington watched as Sparks star Candace Parker finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and six assists in the Mystics' triple-overtime win on Sunday, but the Mystics' balanced effort that resulted in five players scoring in double-figures nullified the reigning MVP's monster performance. Washington's rookie tandem from UConn played a major role, as Bria Hartley paced the team with 20 points and Stefanie Dolson produced 14 points and 11 boards.
Mystics' point guard Ivory Latta struggled during regulation, but made clutch plays down the stretch, including a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the first overtime and a pair of free-throw attempts to even the score with only seconds remaining in the second extra session.
"It's not about how many (Latta) gets but when she gets them," Sparks coach Carol Ross said. "Latta likes to take over the fourth quarter and in this case the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh."
Phoenix also owns a winning record at 3-1 after a 100-78 rout of Tulsa on Friday. The Mercury made good on 51.9 percent of their shots from the floor and seven different players scored at least eight points. Diana Taurasi netted a team-high 16 points, while Erin Phillips had a solid outing as well with 15 points on 5-of-7 efficiency from the field. Phoenix has only played four games, but it has been tremendous in the early going. The Mercury lead the WNBA in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and thanks to their defensive enforcer Brittney Griner, blocked shots per game. Griner's average of 4.3 blocks per game is greater than the team average of eight different squads.
While Tulsa is winless after five games, four of its losses have come by four points or less. The Shock suffered another heartbreaking setback on Sunday, falling to Seattle, 62-60. Crystal Langhorne had her best outing as a member of the Storm en route to a season-high 23 points, while Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright chipped in 11 points apiece to help Seattle snap a two-game losing skid.
1. Minnesota (7-0)
2. Chicago (5-1)
3. Phoenix (3-1)
4. Los Angeles (2-2)
5. Washington (3-2)
6. Atlanta (3-3)
7. Indiana (3-3)
8. San Antonio (3-4)
9. Seattle (2-5)
10. New York (2-4)
11. Connecticut (2-5)
12. Tulsa (0-5)
THIS WEEK'S KEY MATCHUPS
Thursday, June 5
San Antonio at New York: The Liberty will return to the Big Apple hoping to recover from their back-to-back road losses last weekend. Tina Charles is beginning to dominate for New York on the interior, but she will need help from Cappie Pondexter, who has been very streaky on the offensive end for coach Bill Laimbeer.
Friday, June 6
Los Angeles at Chicago: Parker and Delle Donne will go head-to-head as the Sparks try to hand Chicago its second losing decision of the season. The Sky's incredible offensive performance in their last outing will be tough to duplicate against Los Angeles, which has allowed only one opponent to score more than 70 points in regulation.
Sunday, June 8
Minnesota at Los Angeles: The Sparks will return from the Windy City after facing the Eastern Conference-leading Sky to host the WNBA's elite team. The Lynx's visit to LA will be part of a four-game road trip that started with Sunday's win in San Antonio and could put their perfect record in serious jeopardy. Los Angeles won three of the five meetings between these teams in 2013.
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