Frankly, Janel McCarville joked, it got a little monotonous.
“I got a little tired of having to stand up and always cheer for her,” the Lynx center said, referring to Maya Moore, who spent the first half of Minnesota’s 97-74 victory over Seattle on Saturday at Target Center shooting the lights out. “Every possession it was Maya, Maya, Maya. … When her shot is falling like that, there’s not much the defense can do.’’
In a game that showed the Lynx appear to be peaking for the upcoming playoffs, Moore scored 30 points on 12-for-15 shooting. Of those, 25 came in the first half. But in the second half everyone else joined in — including the bench — and the result was a one-sided victory over a Seattle team that had won five of six.
Coach Cheryl Reeve called it a message game, and it kept the Lynx (22-7) one game ahead of Los Angeles in first place in the Western Conference with the Sparks up next on Wednesday.
“We want teams to understand they’re going to have to play really well to come in here and beat us,” said Reeve, whose team won its fourth game in a row.
Moore — who had a career-high 35 points in her last game at Target Center — wasn’t the whole story. Seimone Augustus had 16 points. Monica Wright had 10 points and seven assists to lead a Lynx bench that scored 31 points, including a career-high 14 from rookie Rachel Jarry. Point guard Lindsay Whalen had 12 points and five assists.
But the tone was set early by Moore, who had 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the first quarter, 10 in the second and five in the third before sitting down.
“We use the word cooking,” Augustus said. “She was in the kitchen cooking and I was just kind of waiting for dinner in the dining room.’’
Augustus warmed up in the third quarter, when she and Jarry helped lead a 19-5 run that turned a relatively close game into a rout. Tina Thompson, playing her last regular-season game at Target Center before retiring, had 18 points for Seattle (15-15), but her points came a lot harder when Jarry was inserted to guard her. Seattle — which came out ready to push the ball — also got 16 points from Temeka Johnson. But, after allowing Seattle 26 first-quarter points, the Lynx did a nice job of shutting the Storm down the final three quarters.
“They are the best team in the league at this point,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said.
In her past two home games, Moore has scored 65 points on 27-for-36 shooting as she continues to build her MVP résumé. “I got a chance to get going early,” she said. “That helps. I was just trying to get to places on the floor where I feel good scoring. I was mixing it up, inside-out. Teammates did a great job screening for me.’’
It all sounds so easy.
“I think Maya is really understanding how to get her shots in this offense,” Reeve said. “We’ve been getting some good matchups with her. We came out right away trying to get her opportunities, and we did.’’
The result? More impressive home cooking for the Lynx, who appear to be back running on all cylinders with Wednesday’s big game looming.
“Doesn’t it look like it?’’ Augustus said. “It feels great. That’s the feeling we’ve been looking for. We knew we had another gear to go to, and now we’re where we need to be.”