Coach applauds Whalen for playing through pain

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2012 - 7:54 AM

Taj McWilliams-Franklin helped up teammate Lindsay Whalen after she hit the deck going after a loose ball in the second quarter of Game 3 in the Western conference semifinals at the Target Center.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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Lindsay Whalen continues to amaze on the court.

On Thursday, the veteran point guard played with a heavily taped and sore left wrist but was still effective in the Lynx's 94-77 victory over Los Angeles at Target Center in the opener of the best-of-three Western Conference finals.

"She was basically out there with one hand," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "She is in a lot of pain."

Whalen injured her wrist Tuesday, late in the first quarter of the Lynx's game against Seattle.

"I was told that in the second day after it happened, which would be [Thursday], the swelling would be at its peak," Reeve said after the rout over Los Angeles. "I know the trainers got some good meds in her, and I suspect she won't sleep well tonight because it's going to be throbbing and she will be in pain. Actually, it probably won't be that bad because we won the game."

With Whalen's help. She had 12 points, three assists, two rebounds and one steal, with only one turnover.

"I just love the courage that she plays with," Reeve said.

Harris contributes

Amber Harris told Reeve that she was ready to play against Los Angeles. Reeve's response was she would think about letting her.

Harris came off the bench early in the first quarter and the 6-5 second-year forward scored nine points and had four rebounds after missing seven games with mononucleosis.

"I felt fine," Harris said. "I was not that tired."

She played almost 13 minutes, guarded either Candace Parker or Nneka Ogwumike of the Sparks, and made four baskets, including a three-pointer.

Harris, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 WNBA draft, said her main role on the court is always rebounding. She helped the Lynx to a 37-24 advantage in that category.

Another Taj milestone

Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the Lynx's almost-42-year-old center, set a WNBA record Thursday by appearing in her 59th playoff game. She had been tied with Becky Hammon of San Antonio for most career playoff games.

McWilliams-Franklin's first playoff series was with the Orlando Miracle in 2000. The Miracle later moved to Connecticut, and she was on four playoff teams there from 2003-06.

She also was in the playoffs with Detroit in 2008 and 2009, with New York in 2010 and now with the Lynx two years in a row. McWilliams-Franklin has averaged 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in postseason play.

One of her best playoff assists came Thursday. She made an over-the-head, backward pass to Maya Moore for a three-pointer. The pass was one of the top 10 highlights on Thursday night's "SportsCenter."

McWilliams-Franklin, who turns 42 on Oct. 20, finished with six points and four rebounds in 21-plus minutes and helped guard Ogwumike, a 6-2 forward considered a certainty to be selected rookie of the year.

"Taj [went] against a young buck in Ogwumike, who is just so impressive athletically," Reeve said. "[Nneka] has a lot of fast-twitch muscle and Taj doesn't have any, but Taj has intelligence and she plays on angles. And like she said, 'Coach, I may not get a rebound, but I will block her out.' "

Ogwumike was limited to six points and two rebounds.

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    Saturday October 6, 2012

    CONFERENCE FINALSLYNX vs. LOS ANGELESSunday: at Los Angeles, 2:30 pmOct. 10: at Lynx, 7 pm (if nec.)EASTERN CONFERENCECONNECTICUT vs. INDIANAMonday:...

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