The best rookie on the floor Friday at Target Center wore a San Antonio jersey.
Danielle Adams, a wide-bodied 6-1 forward, caused turmoil underneath the basket and made a three-pointer. The unheralded second-round draft pick scored 16 points for the Silver Stars. But for the seventh consecutive game over two seasons, San Antonio lost to the Lynx -- this time 66-65.
Obviously, the stakes were higher than before. It was the opening game of the best-of-three Western Conference semifinals, which resume Sunday at AT&T Center deep in the heart of Texas.
As for the WNBA's Rookie of the Year, Maya Moore had her troubles. Two hours after receiving her Tiffany's trophy, Moore was 4-for-12 from the field and, more inexcusably, 2-for-6 from the free-throw line. She finished with 10 points and three rebounds.
Her words Thursday, when she was notified of her latest award, proved prophetic. "I had a couple rough patches in the middle of the season," Moore said. "When the team struggled, I struggled. Sometimes we struggled and ended up winning anyway."
"[Lindsay Whalen] and Seimone Augustus were phenomenal for us as far as stepping up and making those big plays," Moore said, "and the rest of us just filled in where we needed to. And it was enough to get a win against a very aggressive and amped-up San Antonio team."
Whalen and Augustus combined for 39 points. Moore, who received 38 of 40 votes for the rookie award -- Adams got the other two -- was the only other Lynx player in double figures.
"We are still in search of trying to play that perfect game," Moore said, "and we don't think we were very close to it this game."
Moore showed few signs she was nervous before her pro playoffs debut. She did tap her right foot at the pregame awards ceremony, sitting next to the Coach of the Year: her coach, Cheryl Reeve. But when it was time to speak, Moore appeared relaxed and began with a one-liner about her trophy: "OK, Coach, go ahead and enjoy the fact that yours is taller than mine."
Moore's mother, Kathryn, who has stayed with Maya most of the summer, said her daughter is poised in the spotlight because she has had so much experience.
"She did her first media interview when she was probably 9 years old in Missouri when she played AAU basketball," Kathryn Moore said. "Local TV did it. The team she was on had qualified for nationals for the very first time for that community."
At the University of Connecticut, Moore was a four-time All-America player and a three-time national player of the year. Her Huskies won two NCAA titles and had a 90-game winning streak. She was interviewed constantly at UConn.
Fan and media expectations for her were exceptionally high after the Lynx took her with the No. 1 overall pick. But she has been the Lynx's leading scorer only seven times this season. Her best stretch probably came in the last nine regular-season games. As the Lynx went 8-1, Moore averaged 16 points -- three above her average -- and six rebounds and had her first double-double.
Maya Moore will become more valuable to the Lynx next season and the seasons after, her mother said.
"Every level that she has played, high school, college, even USA Basketball, she always seems to get better and better every year," Kathryn Moore said. "We will see a different Maya [next season], building on what she has already done."
A Rookie of the Year award is a nice foundation.