So what’s wrong with a little drama? Well, guess it depends on who you talk to.
Take the Lynx, who, on Thursday night, were seemingly on their way to a perfectly scripted, Maya Moore-led, bask-in-her-MVP-glow victory over San Antonio in the first game of their Western Conference semifinals. They were up 15 with 9:01 left, getting ready to high-step off the Target Center floor.
Not five minutes later, the Lynx were down by a point. The Stars were on an 18-2 run and it was …
“Chaos,” Lynx guard Seimone Augustus said. “Like, what the hell is going on?”
Don’t worry. Order, finally, was restored in the Lynx’s 88-84 victory. But it took all the heroics Moore and Augustus could muster to do it.
Moore made plays at both ends of the court and Augustus stepped up and made three consecutive jumpers in the final 131 seconds as the Lynx (26-9) outlasted the gritty Stars in the first game of the best-of-three series that resumes Saturday night in San Antonio (16-19).
“I was happy for a large part of the game, and then something bad happened,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We had things where we wanted, and the bottom fell out defensively. We were fortunate. We made plays offensively.”
Another way to look at it is that the veteran Lynx, pushed to the wall, refused to buckle. On the team, Augustus and Moore — who received her MVP trophy in a pregame ceremony in front of an announced 8,523 fans — are called the bookends. Thursday, they slammed the book shut.
Pick up the action with 4:12 left. Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm had each scored seven points in that 18-2 run, which Hammon finished with a three-point play that gave the Stars a 73-72 lead, San Antonio’s first since the first minute of the game.
First, Moore: She scored on a rebound, then Moore blocked a shot by Kayla McBride at the other end. Moments later, Janel McCarville scored on an 18-foot jumper to push the lead to three. “That’s why [Moore is] the MVP,” San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. “I mean, they’re a good basketball team. But she takes ’em to greatness.”
But not alone. Enter Augustus: With the Stars refusing to quit, Augustus hit three jumpers in a row to keep them at bay. Barely.
“Money,” Moore said. “That’s why she’s called Money Mone. It’s amazing to have that comfort at the other side of the floor.”
Said Augustus: “The last few minutes it’s my and Maya’s time.”
Actually, it was about time. After the game, Reeve bemoaned the lack of consistent defense and her team’s slow adjustment to San Antonio’s zone. But nothing has been easy for the Lynx this season. Why should that change in the playoffs?
Moore was wonderful. She scored 26 points, had six rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. Augustus finished with 16 points and five rebounds. Lindsay Whalen had 10 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists, including one on a fast break to Moore in the first half that nearly brought the house down.
And the Lynx needed every bit of it. The Stars aren’t going away. McBride finished with 20 on 8-for-11 shooting. Hammon had 17, Young-Malcolm 16. Encouraged by their fourth-quarter comeback, they will be formidable at home Saturday.
But the veteran Lynx know what it takes. This was the team’s eighth consecutive playoff victory dating back to last year. The Lynx — proud and ready to do what it takes to defend their WNBA title — make a habit of getting it done, even when it’s not pretty.
“This is what the group does,” Reeve said. “They’re a bunch of veterans. It was great to see them close out the game.’’