After the Lynx’s tougher-than-expected victory over San Antonio on Tuesday, much of the spotlight fell on Maya Moore. The forward had another inspired performance, scoring 32 points—tying a season high—and leading the charge during a huge third-quarter rally that pulled the Lynx out of a big hole.
But the night also belonged to Lindsay Whalen, who added another milestone to her resume. The most popular player in Minnesota women’s basketball history became only the third WNBA player to hit 2,000 assists for her career, dishing out a season-high nine on Tuesday. Whalen now has 2,001 assists in 12 WNBA seasons, second only to Ticha Penicheiro (2,599) and Sue Bird (2,179).
Six of those assists came during that third-quarter comeback, giving a master class in passing to a raucous home-state crowd. The most memorable was an alley-oop to Moore, who stole the ball, delivered it to Whalen, charged to the hoop and received a perfectly placed return pass for a one-handed layup. Whalen also found Moore inside for two more layups during a sequence in which she assisted on five of six baskets, as the Lynx turned a nine-point deficit into a one-point lead.
The self-deprecating Whalen joked about her achievement afterward. “It means I’ve played a lot of years,’’ she said, ‘’so I’m old.’’ But she also made it clear that it was meaningful.
“I’m one of three players who have done it, so it’s nice to be in that company, with Ticha and Sue,’’ she said. “I’ll take it. It’s a team award, that type of stat. It’s definitely cool to be part of that group and have 2,000. It means I’ve played with a lot of great players and made some plays along the way.’’
Her teammates were quick to point out Whalen’s greatness, too. “Coach (Cheryl Reeve) told us after the game what (Whalen) accomplished,’’ Moore said. “ I just feel so great to be able to play with her at this point in her career. She’s so seasoned, so fun to play with.’’
Reeve was just as delighted. “(Whalen) has cemented herself as one of the all-time greatest point guards in this league,’’ she said. “I’m really proud of her, and I know she’s proud of that accomplishment. She’s just a special one, and I was really happy for her that she was able to do it here in front of her fans.’’
Other notes from Tuesday’s game:
--After the game, Reeve was asked how the Lynx will approach the final 11 games of the regular season now that a playoff berth has been locked up. She said her team isn’t close to its peak yet and needs to keep pushing the gas pedal.
“We’ve got to go to another level,’’ she said. “In years past, we had those stretches in the season where we were really, really good. We rattled off a string of games where we were really hard to play against. We haven’t hit that yet this season.
“Maybe that’s the good news, that we have not yet peaked. You look up, and we’re 23 games into the season. It’s really flown. We want to make sure we’re able to kick it into another gear as we move toward the playoff and start sending messages.’’
--Moore had a knee-to-knee collision with the Stars’ Jayne Appel late in the game. It hurt badly when it happened, she said, but calmed down as she stayed in the game and kept moving. “I need bigger knee pads,’’ she joked.
--The Lynx trailed by as many as 13 points. It marked the fifth time this season they have rallied from a deficit of 10 or more to win, most in the league.
--Moore had her 16th career game with 30 or more points, most in Lynx history.