Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said her team was able to beat Phoenix 106-98 on Wednesday because of its perimeter defense in the second half.
“The biggest difference was we came out in the third quarter and defended the three-point line better," Reeve said. "I thought it was pretty consistent throughout the half and I thought we had a greater focus of coming out there and setting the tone.”
The Lynx, who trailed 51-50 at halftime, outscore the Mercury 32-22 in the third quarter. And Phoenix, which was 7 of 11 on threes in the first half, cooled to 3 of 12 in the second.
Key stats from the Lynx's victory:
11x15: Seimone Augustus' shooting stats from the field. She was on fire and when Augustus is making shots, the Lynx usually win.
8 assists: Lindsay Whalen proved again she is one of top point guards in the WNBA.
4 steals: Maya Moore has great anticipation and deceptive quickness to get to the ball.
11 turnovers: In an up and down fast-paced game, the Lynx took care of the basketball. Nobody had more than two turnovers.
Five: Number of Lynx starters in double figures. Seimone Augustus scored 25 points, Whalen had 16, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson all had 14. That's balanced scoring.
“It’s just so much fun to watch. Seimone is such a great player, an all-star, an Olympian," Reeve said, asked about Augustus. "It’s just nice to see her get back after coming off a tough year where she had an injury. Physically, it’s just scary how good she is.”
Augustus said the Lynx wanted to atone for a 112-105 loss to the Mercury on July 13 at Target Center. "We felt like the last game we played we let one slip away, so we wanted to come out in the third quarter and put the pressure on them," she said. "Get out in transition, rebound and keep them off the glass.”
Of course, to beat Phoenix a team usually has to score a lot of points, too. Which the Lynx did, paced by Augustus' season-high 25 points.
“I’m just playing off my teammates and making the right reads off the good screens they were setting," Augustus said. "Other than that, it’s just being aggressive.”
DEFENSE WAS THERE, TOO
Rookie Maya Moore was especially aggressive. She had four steals.
“Our defensive intensity picked up a lot in the second half," Moore said. "We came out, played together and it really just came down to getting stops and executing on the other end. Taj hit some big shots, Rebekkah hit some big shots and Seimone was key for us throughout the whole game.
"We just tried to outmatch their offense with our defense.”