With the game just seconds old, Lindsay Whalen pilfered the ball from Los Angeles Sparks guard Lindsey Harding and scored.
Moments later, Lynx teammate Seimone Augustus — who seemingly walked onto the Target Center court angry — began owning the first quarter.
This time it was going to be different.
In their 88-64 victory over the Sparks on Friday the Lynx gained a measure of revenge for their 28-point loss suffered in L.A. a week ago. In the process the Lynx (7-2) saw their franchise-record home winning streak stretch to 13 games and their lead over L.A. and Phoenix in the WNBA’s Western Conference grow to 1½ games.
And these two teams get to play again, Tuesday in Los Angeles, where the Lynx have lost three in a row and nine out of 10.
“The type of defense we played, and the approach to the game, was championship basketball,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
This was a game the Lynx were ready for. Reeve benched the starters in L.A., criticized them after Wednesday’s practice, talked before the game about how everyone had spent the week festering over that loss.
“It wasn’t sitting right with us,’’ Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “We wanted to put it behind us. Tonight, that’s the way we need to start every game, and it started with Lindsay Whalen.”
The veteran point guard had three assists and a steal in the first quarter and Augustus scored 12 points as the Lynx took a 24-15 lead, matching their point total in the first half a week ago.
Whalen scored the first seven points of the second quarter — with another steal and a three-point play — as the Lynx lead grew while the Sparks went without scoring for more than 5½ minutes. Forced into a half-court offense, L.A. shot 36.9 percent and set a season low in points.
This was a motivated Lynx team.
“She had us at our boiling point,” Augustus said of Reeve. “She’s the mastermind at manipulating us, playing with our minds, getting us ready for the games.”
Whalen certainly was ready. Reeve talked about how having Whalen made it easier for a coach to sleep at night.
“I think she told me, every quarter, ‘I got you, Coach, I got you,’ ” Reeve said of her point guard. “She understood what was needed.”
Whalen scored another eight points in the third quarter as the Lynx’s lead grew to 19. In Los Angeles, the Lynx starters managed just 17 points before being benched. Friday the starters had 57 before sitting down for the final few minutes.
Whalen had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds. Augustus had 19 points, Moore 12. Off the bench, Devereaux Peters had 14, Monica Wright 13.
Together, that was more than enough to offset the Sparks trio of Candace Parker (17 points), Kristi Toliver (14) and Harding (11). The Lynx dominated on the boards and scored 34 more points than L.A. in the paint.
“I think I wanted to set the tempo from the start,” Whalen said. “That was big. Watching the tape of the game in L.A., we needed more tempo.’’
Note: With less than 20 seconds left, Lynx rookie Rachel Jarry took a blow to the head on a drive to the basket. She was able to walk off the court but will be re-evaluated Saturday.