The Lynx struggled to make shots Friday, even missing four consecutive free throws in the last 11 seconds.
But one final hustle play by Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore -- a tip by Whalen on an inbounds pass and Moore's scramble to grab the ball -- ensured a one-point victory. The Lynx beat San Antonio 66-65 in the opening game of their best-of-three Western Conference semifinal series at Target Center.
Guard Seimone Augustus' midrange jump shot with 53 seconds left put the Lynx ahead by one. Neither team scored after that. The outcome sent 11,891 fans, the largest announced crowd of the season, home delighted and drained.
"We didn't play our best, we know that much," said Augustus, who had 19 points. "But this is a playoff game. This is the intensity and the focus that we expected from San Antonio. We expected their best. And they gave it their all."
The Silver Stars had lost four games in a row to the Lynx -- six consecutive going back to 2010. The Lynx won their first two encounters this season on buzzer-beaters by Whalen and Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and this game had the same white-knuckle feeling in the last seconds.
"Coach [Cheryl Reeve] just said whether we win by 10 or one, it is still a win, and we are up 1-0 in the series," Augustus said.
The series moves to San Antonio for a 4 p.m. game Sunday at AT&T Center.
Augustus could barely talk after the game because she was so hoarse from screaming.
"All these fans in here," she said. "I am trying to yell 'switch' or whatever. It is taxing on me."
She was feeling splendid otherwise, especially after her last basket.
"That felt great. It felt like Michael Jordan," Augustus said, laughing. "Nah, it just felt good to be in a position to help my team and make that basket to put us ahead and take some of the pressure off of us."
Augustus was 8-for-18 from the field, but the Lynx as a team shot an underwhelming 39.7 percent, just slightly better than San Antonio (37.9).
Whalen led the Lynx with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds. Also in double figures was Moore with 10 points and, in another category, Rebekkah Brunson with a game-high 14 rebounds.
Becky Hammon and Danielle Adams each had 16 points for San Antonio. Jia Perkins and Sophia Young added 10 apiece.
The Lynx, who are on a 10-1 roll, trailed San Antonio by three at halftime and led by only two going into the fourth quarter.
"We competed better in a couple of areas and that allowed us to stay in the game," said coach Dan Hughes, whose Silver Stars had won five of their past six games. "Rebounding became a bit of an issue at points, but it didn't dominate us."
The Lynx outrebounded the Silver Stars 38-33, but in their last meeting the margin on the boards was 23.
"The difference in [this] game was their ability to go to the line and ours not [to]," Hughes said. "I have to study that, because we are a team that typically does not foul."
The Lynx were 15-for-22 at the free throw line, the Silver Stars 6-for-7.
Hughes pointed out San Antonio's other obvious problem.
"We need to make that last play, whether it be offensively or defensively," he said. "Tonight we didn't get a shot at the goal, the ball got deflected. Those are situations good teams find a way to make it work."
The Lynx, the team which was 27-7 during the regular season, did just that.