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Lynx Advance To WNBA Finals With Sweep Of Mercury

Lynx Advance To WNBA Finals With Sweep Of Mercury

The Minnesota Lynx is making it look easy.

The defending champions made short work of the Phoenix Mercury 82-67 to advance to the WNBA Finals. They will have a chance to become the first back-to-champs since the 2001-02 Los Angeles Sparks.

They now await the winner of the Los Angeles-Chicago series. After a 10-day break at the end of the regular season, the Lynx now will have six days to prepare before the finals begin Sunday at Target Center.

Maya Moore led four Lynx players in double figures with 20 points after dropping a total of 57 on the Mercury in the first two games. She also had six rebounds, three assists and three steals. The X-factor was reserve Natasha Howard, who had playoff career highs in points (17), rebounds (eight) and assists (three).

Howard got extended minutes after Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles all got into foul trouble. She has been wildly efficient in the past two postseasons. She shot 11-for-12 from the field for the Indiana Fever last year. In Games 1 and 2 against Phoenix, she was 8-for-8, and on Sunday she was 8-for-11.
“If you’re around T [Howard], she never changes her expression, she never changes her way, you never know if she is having fun or not, and she was just steady and relentless. It was huge for our team,” coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Speaking of efficient, the Lynx were a plus-26 with Lindsay Whalen on the floor. Whalen, who set a WNBA record with her 68th postseason start, finished with 11 points — all in the first half — on 4-for-5 shooting and had five assists.

The Lynx led only 39-38 at halftime, but after a 16-4 run in the second half, the rout was on. They outscored Phoenix 26-15 in the third quarter, when Howard had eight of her points.

Photo: CHERYL EVANS – ASSOCIATED PRESS

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