Formidable foe Phoenix awaits Lynx

Phoenix still can score, but it’s playing much better defense now.

hide

Brittney Griner, far left, and Diana Taurasi, far right, are a tough 1-2 punch for Phoenix.

Photo: Chuck Myers • MCT,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Both teams are going through a difficult stretch. The Lynx have played four games in a row on the road, losing two, and are in the middle of a stretch in which they will play six games in 10 days. Phoenix will be playing its fifth consecutive road game Sunday, against the Lynx at Target Center, having lost two of their past four.

But don’t expect fatigue to be a factor Sunday.

In a nationally televised matinee, the two teams with perhaps the greatest expectations in the league this season will meet for the first time. The Lynx still are a league-best 8-2 after Friday’s rally in Atlanta fell just short. The Mercury is 6-3, tied for the second-best record in the league.

This is as intense a rivalry as the Lynx have, despite the fact that it has been so one-sided of late.

The Lynx have won 10 consecutive regular-season games vs. Phoenix, including all five last season. Minnesota has eliminated the Mercury in the Western Conference finals in two of the past three seasons.

Both teams have talent-laden rosters.

“This is going to give us a look at two of the best teams in the league,” ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson said.

The Lynx have three No. 1 overall draft picks on their roster in Maya Moore, Janel McCarville and Seimone Augustus.

Phoenix has two in Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. The Mercury leads the league in scoring (84.6) and shooting (49.0), with the Lynx second in both categories (83.9 and 47.2).

But what has made Phoenix perhaps more dangerous is the defense it is playing under new head coach Sandy Brondello.

“In years past, they’ve been pretty good offensively,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “This year more so than last year. But, this year, more so than I can remember, they have a good combination of offense and defense.’’

The addition of Erin Phillips has given the Mercury a true point guard, enabling Taurasi to play more off-guard. Griner, in her second season, has taken a huge step. She is blocking more than three shots a game, averaging 15.6 points and shooting nearly 60 percent.

The Lynx spent some time Saturday reviewing tape of Friday’s loss in Atlanta. In general Reeve is pleased with the way her team has played through 10 games, with a chance to win each.

What Reeve stressed to the players was crisper execution on offense and for her top players to avoid falling into the mode where they feel they have to do things themselves. Moore, in particular, may be forcing things of late. Moore has averaged 11.3 points on 30.2 percent shooting in her past three games.

But forget about those numbers in this game. The rivalry has been feisty at times, including a game in the conference finals last season when Taurasi and Augustus got into a shoving match that ended with a much-publicized on-court kiss.

“Most of that is frustration for the Phoenix,” Robinson said. “[Taurasi] wants to win another championship in the worst way. This is an intense rivalry. Very intense.”

 

  • related content

  • WNBA league leaders

    Tuesday May 27, 2014

  • Guard Seimone Augustus (shown in a May game at Washington) and the Lynx face Phoenix on Sunday at Target Center.

  • lynx gameday

    noon VS. phoenix • target center • espn2, 106.1-fm

    Lynx update: This is the first of four games vs. the Mercury, which might be the most intense rival the Lynx have. At least part of that is because of Minnesota’s recent dominance. Since late 2011, it seems as though the Lynx are the only team the Mercury can’t beat. Minnesota has won 10 in a row vs. Phoenix, 14 consecutive if the playoffs are included, by an average of 17.1 points There is a chance Monica Wright, who had offseason knee surgery, could make her season debut.

    Mercury update: Phoenix is coming off a one-point loss Thursday at Connecticut, dropping it to 3-2 on the road. Four players are scoring in double figures for the Mercury, led by G Diana Taurasi (18.0). Brittney Griner is averaging 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots per game; it will be difficult to control her without a healthy Rebekkah Brunson. The addition of point guard Erin Phillips has been big, enabling Taurasi to play the two-guard spot.

    Kent Youngblood

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 3rd Prd 11:32
NY Islanders 2
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Detroit 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close