Seimone Augustus' hot hand helped secure a home sweep, setting up the Lynx to clinch the title in Atlanta.
The Lynx's game against the Atlanta dream was a struggle, a shootout, a stroll to the free throw line. But most of all, a showcase for two of the best offensive players in the WNBA.
Angel McCoughtry of Atlanta edged Seimone Augustus in scoring, 38 points to 36, but the Lynx star didn't care.
"Kudos to her but, in the end, we got the victory," Augustus said.
The Lynx beat Atlanta 101-95 on Wednesday at Target Center to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. The series now moves to Georgia for the next two games.
"I never thought I would say this in my life," said Lynx rookie Maya Moore, talking to the crowd of 15,124. "But I don't want to see you guys again."
A Game 5, if needed, would be back in Minneapolis.
Augustus played despite having a slightly swollen left knee, the same one she had surgery on in 2009.
"Who told you that?" she said, adding that "It wasn't going to stop me from playing."
Her coach, Cheryl Reeve, told everyone.
"I've not seen the type of performance that Seimone Augustus showed us tonight. The best individual performance I've seen in the playoffs. She's a warrior. She is hurt and she is tough."
And tired. "I was very exhausted," Augustus said.
But with the Lynx clinging to a 91-87 lead with just over two minutes left, Augustus stepped to the free throw line three times. And each time she made two free throws to expand the Lynx's lead to 10 points with 1:25 left.
Augustus was 11-for-14 from the field, including one three-pointer, and 13-for-16 on free throws, missing two in the last minute.
Atlanta's coach, Marynell Meadors, and players made it clear -- in a roundabout way -- they thought the referees stole their victory. The Lynx outscored Atlanta 38-21 on free throws.
"You know, I just really don't understand some of the things that were being called," Meadors said.
McCoughtry's 38 points broke the WNBA Finals record she set last year. Didn't matter to her, though.
"Let us battle it out, let us scratch and claw to the end," McCoughtry said. "It's entertainment, that's what people want to see. That's the way it should be played."
The Dream suffered its fifth loss in a row in the Finals. It was swept by Seattle 3-0 last year.
The Lynx improved their home record to 19-3, 5-0 in the playoffs.
The Dream led most of this game. It was ahead 58-50 at halftime after shooting 59.5 percent. Especially terrific was McCoughtry. She had 24 points, and was eight of nine from the field.
"I walked in and told [the players] I wasn't going to yell and scream at 'em," Reeve said, "and then I started yelling and screaming at 'em."
Emotions were intense all around.
Reeve said she did not say much to Augustus, the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft in 2006 who endured five non-playoff seasons.
"I stay out of her way," Reeve said. "I tried to sub for her. She was mad. We kept running plays for her."
In a game of runs, the Lynx had the decisive one, scoring 10 points in a row to take a 91-85 lead.
Also in double figures for the Dream was Lindsey Harding with 10 points.
In the second quarter a 6-0 run closed the Lynx within 33-29, and a 7-0 run to tie the score at 36-36 on Augustus' three-point play.
But the Dream, led by McCoughtry, kept pulling ahead. Her rushed three-point basket at the halftime buzzer gave Atlanta a 58-50 lead.
The third quarter was more of a defensive struggle. The Lynx outscored the Dream 19-15 and cut an eight-point halftime deficit to five.
But there were signs of trouble for the home team, too. McWilliams-Franklin sprained her right knee and Moore picked up her fifth foul in the last minute.
The score was tied twice early in the fourth quarter. Then the Lynx eased ahead 81-80 on Amber Harris' three-pointer and Jess Adair's free throw. Erika de Souza committed the foul, her fifth, on Adair, and was quickly dispatched to the bench.
But suddenly, all the mojo the Lynx had vanished.
Atlanta scored seven points in a row for an 85-81 lead, then got stuck on 85 as the Lynx scored 10 points in a row to take their biggest lead of the game, at 91-85.
This time, the Lynx held the lead.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Sam Houston St||70|
|New Mexico St||70|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|