When the Lynx and Phoenix Mercury get together, it is often the first team to 100 points that wins.

Thursday night, the Lynx were a little short of the century mark, the Mercury embarrassingly more so. The Lynx opened the Western Conference finals with an impressive rout of the WNBA's highest-scoring team, winning 95-67 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

Shooting 50 percent from the field, the Lynx improved to 17-3 at Target Center this year. Little wonder coach Cheryl Reeve kept talking about the importance of earning home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

"We have been consistently able to score against them," Reeve said prior to Game 1. "We have gotten better and better defending them. It is going to be a test of wills."

It proved to be a one-sided test before an announced crowd of 8,912. The Lynx limited Phoenix to 35.7 percent shooting and held the Mercury to its second-lowest point total of the year, 22 under its regular-season average of 89.

"It was just a lot of fun today watching how hard we played on defense," Reeve said. "Phoenix is a difficult team to guard, and we made it look fairly easy."

The Lynx, in contrast, got nearly everyone involved in scoring. Five players scored in double figures. Seimone Augustus, as usual, led the way with 21 points, but three other starters and reserve Candice Wiggins all had between 13 and 15.

Forward Rebekkah Brunson was especially effective with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

"When we share the ball, we are pretty good," Reeve said.

Augustus did that, too, with seven assists.

"For the most part, when we moved the ball we got what we wanted," Reeve said.

That was especially true in the first quarter when the Lynx opened up a 28-11 lead. Rookie Maya Moore had 13 of those points -- she finished with 15 -- to outscore the Mercury by herself.

Reeve called that quarter impressive but told her team there was still a lot of time left.

"It never feels like enough" against Phoenix, Reeve said. "They are the one team that can take advantage of a bad offense and take it at you."

Diana Taurasi was the only Mercury player who resembled her good self against the Lynx. The league's leading scorer hit her average of 22 points.

"I thought overall we defended her pretty well," Reeve said. "It will take a better effort Sunday to close out a team."

Phoenix lost at WNBA defending champion Seattle 80-61 in Game 1 of their first-round series, then won the next two to advance.

"It is one game, we've been there, done that," said Mercury coach Corey Gaines, referring not only tp the Seattle series but championship runs in 2007 and 2009. "We didn't play well, it happens. Are you guys writing us off?"

After trailing 47-36 at halftime, Phoenix rallied several times. Taurasi made a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup to open the second half and the Mercury were sticking close, down 47-41.

"We were chipping back into it," Gaines said, "but we couldn't sustain the run. We could not get to the foul line."

The Lynx finished the third quarter with a 11-2 run to create some separation at 74-55 lead. The Mercury would not come back this time.

"It probably looked easy," Augustus said, "but it wasn't. And when we go to Phoenix, Arizona, it will be a different story. They will try to set the tone like we did tonight. We'll enjoy this victory until midnight."

By then it will be time to look ahead.


If a third game is needed in the Lynx-Mercury series, it will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Target Center if the Eastern Conference finals between Indiana and Atlanta are over -- or 8 p.m. if they are not. Either way, if there is a third game, ESPN2 will televise it.