Minnesota’s offense was close to unstoppable for the second consecutive game on its way to a 96-86 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Of course, the significance of this is that the Lynx moved to a 2-0 series lead and are just one win away from another trip to the WNBA Finals.
“It’s a team that’s experience in trying to close out a team on the road,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said on her team closing the series out. “We knew how hard today was going to be… Hopefully we’re ready… Our mindset is to win Game 3.”
The Mercury kept the game closer than they did in Game 1, but there was never the sense that they were going to win the game. The game got within six points late in the fourth quarter with 21.6 seconds left, but the Lynx were able to hit their free throws and take care of business.
“This is the playoffs. You’re going to get tested. You have to expect anything at this point,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “Every team is good… You just have to find a way to get it done and stay true to your identity.”
Moore wasn’t as efficient as she was in Game 1, but she did put up a team-high 26 points to go with five assists, four rebounds and a steal. She shot 4-for-7 from the 3-point line.
Point guard Lindsay Whalen finished with 16 points, while 2016 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Veterans Rebekkah Brunson and Jia Perkins combined for 25 points.
Mercury guard Diana Taurasi finished with a game-high 31 points, but shot just 2-for-7 from the 3-point line. Penny Taylor added 16 points, while Marta Xargay added 11. DeWanna Bonner finished with a bench-high 10 points in 23 minutes.
- After having just two rebounds in Game 1, Brittney Griner again had just two in Game 2 in 18 minutes of play (due to foul trouble).
- There were 54 total fouls in the game. Thirty came in the first half. Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of flow to this game.
- The Lynx shot an impressive 33-for-37 (89.2 percent) from the free-throw line.
- Moore shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
- Taurasi had a +/- of -16, the worst mark of the team.
Leader of the Pack: Rebekkah Brunson
“The Machine” was exactly that in Friday night’s win over Phoenix. She might not get the public praise that the rest of her teammates get, but Brunson was dominant in the game, battling with Brittney Griner and Candice Dupree for the majority of the game.
The power forward finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, collecting the only double-double of the game.
She shot 4-for-8 from the field, 5-for-6 from the free-throw line and also added a steal and a block.
“Rebekkah Brunson got the game ball. She was just a warrior,” Reeve said. “… Brunson was the constant. She was able to get us through some tough times with her hustle plays… We needed every bit of (her) tonight.”
Through two games in the series, Brunson is averaging 11 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Lynx will look to close out the series on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT in Phoenix. The game can be watched on ESPN and you can hear John Focke’s radio call on 106.1 BOB FM.