Phoenix - The Lynx won three games in a row for the first time this season, beating first-place Phoenix 83-72 at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Friday night to even their record at 6-6.
The three starting perimeter players did most of the scoring for the visitors. Maya Moore had 23 points, Lindsay Whalen 15 and Seimone Augustus 14. Whalen had not scored in double figures since getting 17 in the season opener.
Center Sylvia Fowles added 11 points and had 10 rebounds for another double-double. It was her league-leading ninth of the season.
"We're a much better team since last time we played these guys," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, referring to a 95-85 loss to the Mercury on June 1 at Target Center. "I think we're getting back to what our identity is. … . There were a number of adjustments that we had to make."
Phoenix (10-4), which had an eight-game winning streak stopped, got a good but not great performance from its big three. Diana Taurasi had 23 points, 6-8 center Brittney Griner 18 — and 13 rebounds — and DeWanna Bonner eight, for 49 points total. That threesome had combined for 74 points in Phoenix's win in Minneapolis.
The Lynx led from start to finish in improving to 6-0 in Phoenix since the 2015 playoffs. They opened this game by taking a 10-2 lead and led 25-13 after the first quarter. At halftime, that 12-point lead had grown to 46-30. And the Lynx led by the same margin, 63-47, after three quarters.
The Mercury got within eight points in the fourth, at 69-61 on a three-pointer by Taurasi with 4:41 left, but the Lynx answered. Rebekkah Brunson made a layup, Fowles a turnaround jumper after a Taurasi turnover and Moore another jumper and the lead was back up to 75-61.
"We just wanted to try to make it difficult," Moore said. "They have great scorers, and we had to have an understanding of what they were trying to do, because they do it so well. I thought our focus and our intensity came together pretty well for the most part on defense."
Minnesota shot 45.1 percent from the field to the Mercury's 40 percent, and also outrebounded Phoenix 37-30, had more assists 20-12, more steals 13-7 — Whalen had five to tie a career high — and committed fewer turnovers 11-17.
""We were not ready to play, that's on me," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. "It is the Minnesota Lynx. I thought we had good preparation on what we wanted to do, we just did not execute. They just came with more urgency and physicality. They took us out of everything we wanted to do, we were missing shots, and we did not execute the scout[ing report]."
"We started playing well in the third [quarter]," Taurasi said, "but we just did not get enough stops. They got too many second-chance points in the first half, and they sustained that throughout the game. When a team gets going and they're playing well, it's hard to plug them up."
The loss kept Phoenix in a virtual tie with the Los Angeles Sparks for first place. The Sparks (9-3) have a .750 winning percentage, the Mercury a .714.
The Lynx, in eighth place, are three games behind those two teams.