Just in case it wasn't clear: The Lynx will have plenty of competition come playoff time.
For now, though, the first-place Lynx are simply bolstering their WNBA-best record and keeping their opponents at bay after sliding by the San Antonio Silver Stars 96-84 on Tuesday night in a raucous overtime at Target Center.
After overcoming a sloppy first half, and then handing away a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Lynx (20-4) came out strong in a Lindsay Whalen-fueled overtime, watching two players notch impressive statistical achievements along the way.
Whalen, after a rough first half in which she scored just three points, instigated a 10-0 run at the start of overtime, capping it with a long three. Later, with 56 seconds left, she piled on with a 22-footer to seal the victory and spur coach Cheryl Reeve to joke about a new team play.
"It's a fist-out-four special -- and that is, 'Whay, just crank a three,'" Reeve said. "She was feeling it. Shocked the heck out of me. I was getting ready for her to come off the pick-and-roll like she always does."
With their seventh consecutive victory, the Lynx boosted their Western Conference lead over third-place San Antonio to three games and now lead second-place Los Angeles by three games in the loss column after a game that pointed again to the challenges remaining in the schedule.
"We didn't forget," said Taj McWilliams-Franklin. "We played San Antonio last year [in the playoffs]; they're the only team that took us to three games."
Perhaps those memories were part of what sparked McWilliams-Franklin's critical play. She scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half and added seven rebounds. Five of those boards were offensive, helping her set a WNBA career record with 1,050.
At her side in the paint was forward Rebekkah Brunson, who in her third consecutive double-double set a franchise record for rebounds in a game with 20.
"We knew that we had to limit their second-chance points," Brunson said. "They get a lot of points on offensive rebounds, kicking it out for threes."
Limiting San Antonio was about all the Lynx -- who had five players score 14 points or more -- could do in the first half, when they shot only 32.6 percent from the field (the Silver Stars shot 42.9) and had seven turnovers.
Early in the third quarter, the Lynx snatched the momentum from a San Antonio team that was running on guard play from Becky Hammon and Danielle Robinson, but the Silver Stars threatened again late, before McWilliams-Franklin went on a run, hitting three consecutive shots, then blocking San Antonio forward Sophia Young's shot on the other end of the court in the Silver Stars' next possession and screaming and beating her chest in excitement.
Still, given the chance to put the game away for good in the fourth quarter, the Lynx faltered.
The Lynx led by nine with eight minutes left in regulation before Young sparked a 16-6 run to put San Antonio back up 78-77 with just under two minutes remaining. Maya Moore hit a midrange jumper to tie the score at 79-79, but McWilliams-Franklin turned over the team's last possession to force overtime.
"We had some little slides there and we let them get away with some things," Brunson said. "They're a team that is going to keep coming at you, they're not going to give up."