Kent Youngblood writes about the Minnesota Lynx.

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Yet another Maya Moore highlight reel

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: August 22, 2014 - 1:12 PM

Greetings. There wasn't any access to the Lynx today, so I don't have any new quotes for you.

That said, there is always more to be said about Maya Moore. Including the fact that, Friday, Moore was named to the WNBA's All-Defensive second team. It is the first time Moore has been named to an all-defensive team, and the fifth time for Lynx player overall. Rebekkah Brunson made it for three years starting in 2011 and Nicky Anosike was named in 2009. 

The first team consisted of Brittney Griner, Phoenix; Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta; Sancho Lyttle, Atlanta; Briann January, Indiana; and Tanisha Wright, Seattle.

Joining Moore on the second team was Alana Beard, Los Angeles; Tamika Catchings, Indiana; Sylvia Fowles, Chicago; and Danielle Robinson, San Antonio. 

OK, moving on. I thought you'd enjoy this collection of Moore's stellar plays from Thursday's victory over San Antonio at Target Center. Enjoy. 

Lynx create drama, but finish off the victory

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: August 21, 2014 - 11:39 PM

Well, that turned out to be a little tighter than it needed to be.

Who among you didn’t think that the Lynx, up 15 early in the fourth quarter, were about ready to put the foot down and blow the Stars away tonight at Target Center?

But then again, what has been easy for the Lynx this season? Given the way the Stars fought  back tonight, I’m thinking Saturday’ second game is going to be very difficult for the Lynx to win. I’m betting on a Game 3 Monday night back here.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

--What is left to say about Maya Moore? She was great tonight. She had 26 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals, two blocks. Vital at both ends of the floor. Here’s what Stars coach Dan Hughes said about here: “They’re a good basketball team,” he said. “But she takes ‘em to greatness.”

--Don’t forget Seimone Augustus. She has been hurting much of the year, in and out of the lineup. But tonight she hit three straight jumpers in the final 2-plus minutes to keep the Stars at bay. I think she’s feeling pretty good right now, health-wise. Indeed, maybe as good as she’s felt all year. I think she’ll be big going forward.

--Lindsay Whalen had a whale of a game two, 10 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds. Calm, calm, calm.

Only problem is, she can’t play every minute of the game. The Lynx had troubles, especially on defense, when coach Cheryl Reeve had to go to the bench. The Lynx bench got out-scored 27-17 tonight.

--It was a very efficient night for Janel McCarville, who scored 11 points with five rebounds. Ditto for Rebekkah Brunson, who is showing signs of getting her legs back. Brunson hit four of eight shots for 8 points with seven rebounds and three steals tonight. I think she’ll be even better Saturday.

That’s about all for now. Have a good weekend. 

Moore receives WNBA MVP trophy

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: August 21, 2014 - 7:14 PM

About an hour and a half before Thursday’s game tipped off, Maya Moore was officially presented with the WNBA’s MVP trophy during a press conference with league president Laurel Richie.

It was a nice, well-attended and sometimes funny presentation in which Moore, who did just about everything a player could do to get her team to the place it is, reacted with both humor and humility.

In her presentation Richie joked that, in addition to leading the league in scoring, she also probably led in black eyes. She said she felt like she knew Moore, as they both came to the league at the same time. “My sense is you came back this year on a mission,” Richie said, “to make an impact on your team.’’

Moore?

Echoing her previous comments, she talked about how strange it is to be focusing on a personal accomplishment less than two hours before the Lynx playoffs began. She thanked her team and her teammates for the environment she came into as a rookie, one that allowed her to grow as a person and a player.

She looked at her mom and asked her if she imagined this day decades ago when Moore was a little girl running around the family’s home in Missouri. “I couldn’t have dreamed it up,” Moore said.

Then she turned to the trophy to see if it was smiling. It should be, she said, because of,  ‘’how much fun it is to be on this Minnesota Lynx team,” she said. “We enjoy coming to practice, the tough times that have come our way, especially this season, and how we’ve overcome them.’’

“This award, the thing I’m probably most proud of is the consistency it represents,” Moore said. “Coming in every day and walking the walk. That’s what you want to do as a leader. You want to go out and do it. .. I felt I kept my word when I said I’m going to be there for my team when they need me. And so did the other 11 players in the locker room. To know my teammates are proud of me means more than winning the award. I care more about what they think, and what the coaching staff thinks. To know they appreciate and respect me means a lot.’’

There is more to come. There will be a pre-game ceremony on court for the fans. And then Moore can do what she’d rather do: Buckle down and worry about winning a game, a series and a championship.

As for the game? Coach Cheryl Reeve has tried hard to keep the focus on the game and not on any MVP award. Indeed, she said she hasn’t even brought up the MVP with anyone on the team other than Moore herself, and won’t mention it in her pre-game speech.

This team is ready, I believe, after four days off between games. Reeve said Lindsay Whalen was saying at shootaround this morning that it was time to play. “The mental prep for these guys is something I’m really proud of,” Reeve said. “We have great leaders who embrace what we find important as a staff.’’

A couple other things: Reeve said Seimone Augustus’ knee feels good and that Rebekkah Brunson is coming off her best week of practice so far.

Oh, and rookie Damiris Dantas, who missed the final three games of the regular season tending to a family situation in her native Brazil, will not play tonight. But Reeve said there is a chance she could play at some point in this series.

That’s about it. I’ll get back to you after the game. 

Lynx head into the playoffs with some momentum

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: August 16, 2014 - 10:22 PM

It was as if the way the Lynx played in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s victory over Tulsa had wiped away a weeks’ worth of losses and frustration. The Lynx enter the playoffs Thursday with a little bit of swagger restored to their collective step. Here are some observations from tonight’s 80-63 victory at Target Center, which made the Lynx (25-9) the first WNBA team in history to have four straight seasons with 25 or more victories:

--I think Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen needs the two days of rest the Lynx are getting before getting back to practice Tuesday. Whalen played hard and was a key part of the fourth-quarter surge tonight. She finished with six points and nine assists. But she looked a bit tired while shooting 2-for-14.

--Seimone Augustus showed no signs her knee was hurting while scoring 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Afterward she said she was surprised her left knee hurt so little. The Lynx need her in the playoffs.

--Maya Moore became the only player in the league to score in double figures in every game this season with her 19-point, 12-rebound performance.

--It as a nice game for the Lynx bench tonight. Tan White scored eight with five assists. Monica Wright scored seven and Devereaux Peters had six points and six rebounds. The Lynx bench scored a total of 25 points.

--The Lynx had 24 assists on 30 field goals made.

--For the Lynx to vie for another title, I think Rebekkah Brunson will have to take it to another level. Before the game coach Cheryl Reeve said Brunson – who only played in the final 11 regular season games after pre-season knee surgery – was going through a stretch of tired legs players often get in training camp. I believe she’ll get closer to her regular form by Thursday.

That’s about it for now. Have a great rest of your weekend.

Augustus expected to play tonight

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: August 16, 2014 - 7:05 PM

Seimone Augustus warmed up and will attempt to play tonight, one night after missing a game with swelling in her left knee.

It is something Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Augustus very much wanted to do. The plan was to let Augustus stay home and let the knee rest while the Lynx played in San Antonio Friday night. And then for Augustus and the trainers to decide whether she could go tonight after warming up.

So she will play. But don’t expect to see her out there for, say, 30 minutes. Reeve is more concerned about the playoffs than this particular game, even though it is fan appreciation night. “We’ll see how it goes,” Reeve said.

That said, there is some significance to this game, even though it won’t affect the Western Conference playoff seeding. A win would give the Lynx 25 victories this season for the fourth straight season, something no other WNBA team has ever done.

“It would be nice to have,” Reeve said. “As I told our players, I want them to take their place in history, because I think they’ve been that good over a period of time. It just would reflect how amazing they’ve been. At the same time, winning in the playoffs is of paramount importance.”

Meanwhile:

Just before Saturday’s game tipped off, the Lynx announced that forward Rebekkah Brunson had agreed to a multi-year contract extension with the team.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“She is one of the cornerstones of our team and we’re thrilled that she’s decided to continue her career in Minnesota,” Lynx executive vice president Roger Griffith said. “We look forward to having her in a Lynx uniform for many years to come.’’

Brunson is in her 11th WNBA season, her fifth with the Lynx. She missed much of the season after having knee surgery as training camp began. She returned after the All Star break and has averaged 7.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in 10 games .

That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after the game. 

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