New York made Thursday’s game at Target Center interesting – for the first half.
Then the Lynx took control and it was a runaway. The defending WNBA champions crushed the Liberty 102-70.
Seimone Augustus, looking determined and intense with the Lynx coming off their first loss of the season, scored 26 points. Rookie Devereaux Peters, bouncing off bodies on several of her baskets, had season-high 18 points.
Liberty coach John Whisenant said before the game he was worried the Lynx’s three-point loss at Seattle on Sunday might have awaken them. He was right to worry.
The Lynx, ahead by three points at halftime, scored 35 points in the third quarter to take a 17-point lead. And it kept getting worse for the visitors, who made seven of nine shots from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes but cooled off.
The Lynx (11-1) now have 12 games in a row at home, counting five playoff victories last season. The last team to beat them at Target Center was New York last Sept. 2 in a regular-season game. They are 6-0 at home this season.
After scoring a season-low 10 points in the first quarter Sunday, the Lynx had another slow start against the Liberty (4-8).
They trailed 22-17 after the opening quarter when they shot 27.3 percent and committed five turnovers. Especially struggling was point guard Lindsay Whalen. She was one for six and had two of the ballhandling mistakes.
New York made two three-pointers to open up the second quarter and take an 11-point lead at 28-17, forcing the Lynx to call timeout.
The Liberty led by seven at 34-27 when the cold-shooting Lynx went on a 13-0 run. Backup post Peters had four points in that stretch, Augustus three.
New York, scoreless for about four minutes, finally got a basket when Leilani Mitchell drove to the rim for a basket off the glass. That brought the Liberty within 40-36.
It looked as if the Lynx would end the first half on a high note when Maya Moore sank a three from the right corner with 2.2 seconds left to put the Lynx ahead 45-39.
Nope. Mitchell answered with a half-court buzzer-beater and the margin was three.
Augustus had a game-high 14 points in the first half. But the Liberty stayed on the Lynx’s heels by making seven of nine shots from behind the arc, including one from about 50 feet.
The Lynx opened up a 12-point lead with a 11-2 run to start the third quarter. It began with Whalen getting a steal and scoring on a layup. Moore followed with her second three-pointer of the game. And the lead grew to 56-44.
By the time the third quarter ended, the Lynx were ahead by 17 at 80-63.
Even Cappie Pondexter’s 30 points could not keep the Liberty close.
Notes: Lynx backup center Jessica Adair will have arthroscopic surgery on her right knee on Friday. The knee has been bothering him for a long while. She will be out until mid-August, or after the WNBA’s break fro the London Olympics.