The defending champ Lynx rode depth to a rout in the opener, and an injury concern faded, too.
The list of star athletes who have suffered season-ending injuries recently in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is already too long. Ricky Rubio, Trevor Mbakwe, Scott Baker, Adrian Peterson ... and, briefly, it looked as if Seimone Augustus might be added.
A day of celebration for the Lynx on Sunday nearly turned somber when Augustus flew into the courtside chairs at Target Center late in the third quarter of the home team's 105-83 rout of Phoenix.
The top of the black metal folding chair Augustus struck with her midsection didn't budge -- those front-row chairs are attached to each other. Nor did Augustus move for several minutes.
Augustus, the WNBA Finals MVP last season, remained bent over and on her knees in obvious pain. But this potential team-changing injury has a happy ending.
"I tried to do a little razzle-dazzle and lost the ball," Augustus said, describing what happened. "From that point, I just tried to save the ball and ran into the back of the chair and just bruised my ribs. I will be fine."
Augustus said she plans to play in the Lynx's next game Tuesday at New York. "I am pretty tough," she said.
Augustus was slowly led off the court by a Lynx trainer. She returned to the bench four minutes into the fourth quarter to watch the ending.
"I didn't see [the collision]," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Last I saw [Seimone] was trying to make ESPN's top 10 on the highlights. So I didn't see what happened after that."
Augustus, despite playing a little less than 24 minutes, led the ultra-balanced Lynx with 19 points. Six Lynx players scored in double figures, tying a club record; their bench outscored the Mercury's 40-8.
The matchup of the league's highest-scoring team, Phoenix, and the defending WNBA champions attracted a announced crowd of 12,611, a record for a Lynx season opener. Many came early to see the team receive its championships rings.
Charde Houston and Alexis Hornbuckle, two former Lynx players traded to Phoenix in the offseason, also got rings.
Houston, a deep Lynx reserve a year ago, started in place of injured Diana Taurasi and, for the first quarter, did quite an impersonation of the league's leading scorer the past four seasons.
With Taurasi (hip flexor) limited to being a cheerleader, Houston made three of four shots from behind the arc and had 11 points in the quarter, which ended tied 20-20. Houston finished with a career-high five threes and a game-high 24 points -- two shy of tying another career best. The most points she scored last season was nine.
"Whether it was Charde or anybody else, defensively we had some challenges," Reeve said. "We weren't very good individually on our one-on-one."
On offense, in contrast, the Lynx set franchise records for most field goals (44) and points in the paint (58) in a game and shot 57.1 percent, tying the second-best mark for accuracy in their 14-year history.
Playing the Mercury is always fun, Augustus said, adding: "People want to see offense, and they create that. They make us get out and play offense and have a fast-tempo game, and that's what the fans want to see."
Phoenix coach Corey Gaines didn't like what he saw from the Lynx, but it was all too familiar.
"They shot the ball well, rebounded the ball well," Gaines said. "They['re] together, like they were last year."
|Minnesota - WP: C. Thielbar||7||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Banuelos||3|
|Stephen F Austin||85|
|Sam Houston St||69||FINAL|
|San Diego St||59|
|Utah Valley U||69|
|New Mexico St||69|
|Long Beach State||77|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||64|
|(25) Bowling Green||55|
|New Mexico St||65||FINAL|
|Coll of Charleston||70|