No repeat: Defending champion Lynx go cold in Game 3

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 6:41 AM

view larger photos

  

– In retrospect, it was a bomb that reverberated all through a suddenly loud US Airways Center.

It was as improbable as it was incredible. And, maybe, it was the key blow in a game that, up to that point, had been a gutty example of give and take.

For at least this season, the Lynx’s reign is over, thanks to the Phoenix Mercury in a 96-78 victory Tuesday.

The Mercury won the best-of-three WNBA Western Conference finals, ending a three-year run in which the Lynx had reached the league finals.

“We wanted a chance to defend our title, but it just didn’t work out for us,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

It was Mercury guard Diana Taurasi who led the way and lit the fuse.

Down 10 points in the third quarter, the Lynx clawed back into the game behind Seimone Augustus. She had eight points in a 13-3 run that tied the score 67-67 on Maya Moore’s driving layup late in the quarter.

Enter Taurasi.

She hit a jumper at the other end. Then, after a Lynx turnover with two seconds left in the quarter — Lindsay Whalen was called for traveling, a call the Lynx hotly protested — Taurasi took an inbounds pass and launched a nothing-but-net heave from at least 50 feet that, in retrospect, might have given the Lynx shellshock.

“When anyone makes a shot like that,” said Mercury coach Sandy Brondello, “You think, ‘OK, it’s our night.’ To me, she’s the best player in the world.”

Or, viewed from the other side: “That was probably our breaking point,” Augustus said. “Something like that happens, after we tied the game, it was almost like a backbreaker. We never rebounded from that.”

Because this is what happened: Those five points from Taurasi were just the beginning. She came out and scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter. By the time the Lynx finally scored — on a Whalen driving layup with 4:23 left — the game was out of hand.

“There’s always plays in games that turn the tide,” Taurasi said. “For the most part, going into the last couple minutes of the third, they got the momentum. A couple plays turned that.”

The Lynx were outscored 24-11 in the fourth quarter. Go back to the final moments of the third quarter and that run was 29-11.

And the game was basically over. As the minutes ticked away, Reeve was assessed two technical fouls and was escorted from the court as the crowd roared.

“I was hoping to be able to congratulate Sandy on the court, about how well her team played,” Reeve said. “I thought Phoenix played great. They were hard to play against. It wasn’t like we played bad. I have a good team.”

But, ultimately, the Lynx couldn’t stop the Mercury. Taurasi had 31 points, hitting 12 of 17 shots to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. Brittney Griner added 22 points, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree had 14 each and Penny Taylor 10.

The Mercury shot 58.7 percent from the field, scoring 56 of its points in the paint as the Lynx struggled to contain Griner and defend the pick-and-roll.

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Phoenix 96, Lynx 78

    Tuesday September 2, 2014

  • Whalen fights, but Phoenix wins battle in Game 3

    Wednesday September 3, 2014

    Lindsay Whalen had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but it wasn’t enough as Phoenix won the clinching game.

  • Game 3 recap: Phoenix 96, Lynx 78

    Wednesday September 3, 2014

    GAME RECAPImpact playerDiana Taurasi, PhoenixThe veteran guard scored a game-high 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including a 50-foot buzzer-beating three-pointer...

  • Phoenix Mercury forward Mistie Bass (8) celebrates with Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) after her half court 3 point shot to end the 3rd quarter against the Minnesota Lynx in game 3 of the WNBA Western Conference finals Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 in Phoenix Ariz.

  • Phoenix Mercury's Penny Taylor (13), of Australia, pulls down a rebound in front of Minnesota Lynx's Rebekkah Brunson (32) during the first half of Game 3 in the WNBA Western Conference basketball finals Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • The Mercury’s Eshaya Murphy, Ewelina Kobryn, Tiffany Bias, and Mistie Bass, froim left, cheered as the final seconds elapsed.

  • Lynx center Janel McCarville tried to get off a pass around Phoenix’s Brittney Griner (42) and Penny Taylor during the first half of the Mercury’s 96-78 victory Tuesday night.

  • Diana Taurasi, right, and Penny Taylor, left, celebrated after advancing to the WNBA Finals.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close