When Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve talks about Maya Moore, she mentions ... posture?
Moore is an athletic marvel who can fill a boxscore with crooked numbers and double digits, yet Reeve is more likely to note the set of Moore’s shoulders than the purity of her shots.
Basketball stars develop their own look. Some slouch, some scowl. Some walk with a syncopation that hints at the herky-jerky moves that can make a defender’s ankles melt.
Moore doesn’t do any of that.
“She always has her head up and her shoulders back,” Reeve said recently. “She’s not only always positive — she always looks positive.”
There were negatives to dwell in the Lynx’s Game 1 loss of the WNBA Finals, including Moore’s scoreless first half. You wouldn’t have known that by Moore’s posture during Game 2. Eyes up, shoulders back, Moore offered another reminder of why she is one of the world’s best players during the Lynx’s 79-60 victory over Los Angeles, which evened the series as it heads West.
In Game 1, Moore produced 18 points, six rebounds and three assists. All-Stars have averaged less. Because the Lynx lost, her scoreless first half held more weight than her strong second half.
Tuesday, Moore scored four points in the first quarter. The score was 22-22 early in the second.
That’s when Moore took a spill after catching a knee while trying to fight through a screen. The franchise player got up, seemed to take anatomical inventory, and then took over the game.
She made a three-pointer — the Lynx’s first of the series, a shocking statistic for a skilled team — as the shot clock expired. She drove for a bucket. She stole the ball from Sparks star Candace Parker.
Late in the half, Moore grabbed a rebound and flung a long pass to Lindsay Whalen, who spun in a layup, drew the foul and hit the free throw. Suddenly the Lynx led, 37-24, and Moore was flexing and screaming as Target Center filled with noise.
Los Angeles cut the lead to three midway through the third period. Moore responded with an offensive rebound that led to Sylvia Fowles’ three-point play. Then Moore hit a long jumper, and then a three-pointer, and order was restored.
“Everybody asked me how I thought Maya would respond after Game 1,” Reeve said. “I said, if I know Maya, Maya hasn’t slept.”
Tuesday, Moore finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, and her defense helped hold the Sparks to 18 points fewer than in Game 1.
“There’s only so many things you can do to take your mind off a loss like that,” Moore said. “Falling asleep was pretty hard. Thankfully, I didn’t have any nightmares. Today was better.”
Her play has been more spectacular; rarely has it been more necessary. And after winning a game in the Finals, she and her teammates danced with kids after the game in the middle of the court. She was the last player off the court, and she pointed at the crowd and high-fived her way through the tunnel.
“She’s always on, always positive,” Reeve said. “It really is remarkable. Because everywhere she goes she’s Maya Moore and she’s in demand.”
Afterward, Moore sat next to Seimone Augustus at the podium, and the two WNBA champions and Olympians shared smiles and knowing looks.
“Our team is so great at being positive,” Moore said. “Lindsay is one of those people — you get around her, she’s going to pick you up. Sylvia was smiling. Seimone comes in and starts talking trash.”
Augustus shot her a look.
“The good trash!” Moore said.
Reeve says that when Augustus is engaged, the Lynx win. Moore knows when Augustus is engaged.
“The dreads get to popping,” Moore said. “The nostrils get to flaring.”
Augustus, pretending to take offense, gave her another look.
“My nostrils flare, too!” Moore said. “We’re both nostrilly-flarey players.”
They both had that look Tuesday, in a game they felt they had to win.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MalePatternPodcasts.com. On