That Maya Moore is going to New York as the newly minted WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week can only be called perfect timing.
It is deserved, of course. Moore, the Lynx star, won the honor for the second time in three weeks. She averaged 25 points in three games last week, including Sunday’s 35-point performance against Indiana, the highest total by a league player this season.
But the timing? Delicious.
The last time the Lynx played New York, the Liberty was at Target Center on Aug. 18. Moore was the reigning player of the week then. And, in a 21-point victory over the Liberty, Moore scored 28 points, playing late into the already-decided game.
Afterward, Liberty GM and coach Bill Laimbeer took exception, saying the Lynx were only trying to get Moore another weekly award and concluding with this: “She should get hurt for that.’’ That quote earned Laimbeer a league fine.
And now, the rematch.
The Lynx, holding a one-game lead in the Western Conference, are playing the Liberty, one game out of a playoff spot in the East.
That plus the fact that Laimbeer was a mentor for Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve — she was his assistant in Detroit for two league championship runs — only adds spice, no matter how much people in the Lynx practice facility were trying to downplay it after Monday’s practice.
“Bill is a competitive guy,” Reeve said. “Bill was pretty frustrated here at the Target Center. If you’re asking if I expect there to be any carry over? I don’t. I’ve worked for Bill, I’ve been on the sidelines. I’ve heard it before. He’ll try to use our game as motivation to fire them up. But hey, if you need firing up and motivation at this point, then his team has a problem.’’
Moore, meanwhile, said she hadn’t read Laimbeer’s remarks. When told about them, she laughed. “Oh well,” she said. “Only thing I can do is try to play as long as I can and not get hurt.’’
Moore’s efficiency has been off the charts lately. Over her past four games — starting with the victory over New York — she has hit 40 of 69 shots (nearly 60 percent), is 13-for-21 on three-pointers (61.9) and has averaged 25.8 points per game.
“I think Maya has gone [to] a different place in terms of her hunger for getting things done,” Reeve said.
And now Moore and the Lynx get the Liberty, again. Could this be the start of a nice rivalry? That Aug. 18 game was the first between Reeve and Laimbeer as head coaches.
“She’s a little amped up for this game,” Seimone Augustus said of Reeve. “I guess she’s trying to show her mentor she’s ready to take over the throne.’’
As for Laimbeer’s comments?
“Bill is always cranky,” joked Augustus. “Bill is a cranky old man. But he’s a competitor. He’s the same way Reeve is; he doesn’t like to lose. He talks smack. He says what he has to say. Some things can be inappropriate. We’re definitely trying to make sure we protect our players, especially as we head into the playoffs.’’