Kent Youngblood writes about the Minnesota Lynx.

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Lynx enter the All-Star break on a roll

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: July 16, 2014 - 3:48 PM

The Lynx remain behind Phoenix in the Western Conference standings even after Wednesday’s victory. But the feeling after beating the Shock was one of optimism in the Lynx locker room. After a difficult stretch in the middle of the season, the Lynx enter the All Star break having won four straight and six of seven. And Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson are both expected back after the break, giving the Lynx – who have not been completely healthy all season – 11 games before the playoffs begin.

Here are some thoughts on today’s game:

--On their annual camp day, with the Target Center filled with very, very loud youngsters, the Lynx posted a franchise regular-season record attendance of 16,413.

--Devereaux Peters and Monica Wright continue to play very well for the Lynx. Both of them were out to start the season following knee surgery. And both took some time to get back in rhythm. But both are there now.

Peters did a great job guarding Glory Johnson, and she also chipped in 10 points, three blocks and a steal. Wright, meanwhile, scored 10 points and a career-high five steals.

--Maya Moore continues to amaze, with her ninth 30-point game of the season. She had 12 of those in the fourth quarter Wednesday as the Lynx held off the Shock. This time she did it with just one three-pointer made. Moore was 9-for-13 on two-point attempts and got to the line 13 times, making 11. She also had nine rebounds and five assists with two steals and a block. What can’t she do?

--Lindsay Whalen added 18 points with five assists. In a very physical game she helped set the tone.

--After rookie Damiris Dantas posted her third double-double of her career (10 points, 11 rebounds), coach Cheryl Reeve joked that they asked her what she had for her pre-game meal so the team could make sure she had it before every game. Dantas was very assertive today.

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after Monday’s practice. Reeve and her staff will be coaching the Western Conference team in Saturday’s All Star Game, and both Moore and Whalen will be on the team.

Have a good weekend. 

Brunson takes another step

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: July 15, 2014 - 4:47 PM

Neither Rebekkah Brunson nor Seimone Augustus will play for the Lynx Wednesday in the team’s last game before the WNBA All Star game. Augustus will miss her seventh straight game and eighth overall with left knee bursitis. Brunson hasn’t played this season since having right knee surgery May 13.

But it won’t be long until both return.

Brunson took another step Tuesday during practice, when she took full part with the first team in non-contact offensive drills. Brunson has yet to go against a defense in practice, but she said she is pain-free and that her knee, right now, feels better than it did last season.She moved very well. 

Augustus is doing a lot of aerobic work, her knee is feeling better.

The Lynx are hoping both will return to the lineup a week from today in Minnesota’s first game after the break.

If that happens it will be the first time the Lynx have had their entire roster – and starting five – all available on the same day this season.

That means the Lynx have 11 games – about a third of the season – to get back in synch and make a push towards the playoffs.

“I feel really good,” Brunson said. “This has been a process. This was the next step. I felt really good about it. It just felt good to be out there.”

Nobody is expecting either Seimone or Brunson to be 100 percent the minute they step back on the floor. Especially Brunson, who has yet to play.

But the Lynx have gone 16-6 this season without Brunson and 5-1 in the last six games without Augustus. And remember, the Lynx started out the season without Devereaux Peters and Monica Wright.

That is good enough for second in the Western Conference, a game and a half behind streaking Phoenix. But a completely healthy Lynx roster would presumable be in position to battle with the Mercury for the top spot.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff,” Brunson said. “We know this is the point when we can really get the pieces together and go on a run.” 

Moore wins WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week award

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: July 14, 2014 - 4:11 PM

For the second time this season, Lynx forward Maya Moore was named the WNBA Western Conference of the Week for games ending Sunday.

This should come as a surprise to nobody. Moore scored 30 points -- 16 in the fourth quarter -- in a victory over Los Angeles last Tuesday. Two days later in Tulsa, Moore had 33 points and 11 rebounds.It was the third time this season Moore has had 30 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in the same game. And then, Sunday against Seattle, after a slow start, Moore took off in the second half and finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Moore leads the league in scoring (23.7) and minutes (34.9) this season and is tied for fifth in steals (2.0), seventh in free throw shooting (88.1) and tied for eighth in rebounds (8.2).

It is the seventh time in Moore's career she has been named player of the week. 

Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry was named player of the week in the Eastern Conference. 

Moore is top vote-getter for WNBA All Star Game

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: July 8, 2014 - 8:44 PM

Getting to the WNBA All-Star Game is nothing new. Maya Moore has been there every year there has been one since she came into the league. She was there in 2011 and again last year, with a 2012 Olympic Gold Medal in-between.

But this time, another honor.

The league announced the starters for the July 19 game in Phoenix and Moore was not only a Western Conference starter, she was the leading vote-getter in the league. Moore got 28,389 votes, more than Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne (26,129), who was the leading vote-getter a year ago.

“It’s just great to be honored and appreciated by people across the world,” Moore said. “I want to make sure I’m playing as well as the accolades that I’m getting.”

Joining Moore on the Western Conference starting five are guards Diana Taurasi (Phoenix) and Skylar Diggins and frontcourt players Candace Parker (Los Angeles) and Brittney Griner (Phoenix).

The Eastern Conference starters are: guards Shone Schimmel (Atlanta) and Cappie Pondexter (New York) and frontcourt players Delle Donne, Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta) and Tamika Catchings (Indiana).

As far as keeping up with the accolades, Moore has nothing to worry about.

She is averaging season highs in scoring (22.8), steals (2.1), minutes (34.9) and rebounds (8.0) per game. She is leading the league in scoring, sixth in steals, 10th in rebounds and second among frontcourt players with 3.4 assists per game. She has scored 20 or more points in 12 games, 30 or more in six and has five point-rebound double-doubles.

She has had to do more because of injuries on the team. Monica Wright and Devereaux Peters missed the early part of the season following knee procedures. Guard Seimone Augustus missed her fourth straight game Tuesday because of knee bursitis.  And forward Rebekkah Brunson has been out following pre-season knee surgery and isn’t expected back until after the All Star break.

“She’s trying to do more, and she’s been more assertive,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I think it’s hard when you’re the focal point. I think it’s hard when her coach plays her 35 minutes a game, then gets upset with her when she makes mistakes because she’s tired. So, given all that, Maya has handled it great.”

Moore’s shooting percentages are down slightly from last year’s lofty figures, but that’s a product of a more focused opponent and Moore’s need to do more to carry the load.

Now it’s a question of who will go to Phoenix with Moore.  Reeve and her staff will coach the West. Reserves for the game – which will be picked by the league’s coaches – will be named July 15.

Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are strong candidates to be named, though Augustus’ injury situation might impact her ability to play. 

Augustus out again

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: July 8, 2014 - 7:03 PM

Lynx guard Seimone Augustus will not play tonight against the Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center. It is the fourth straight game she has missed due to left knee bursitis, and the fifth overall.

At this point the team is still calling her day-to-day, but the possibility remains she could be out until after the All-Star break. That game, set to be played in Phoenix, is on July 19.

Meanwhile, a game after the New York LIberty beat the Lynx in large part because of their interior game, the Lynx have to slow a Sparks frontcourt that goes 6-2, 6-4 and 6-4. 

That's about it for now. Have a good night.


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