Lynx overcome slow start to win playoff opener

The Minnesota Lynx outscored visiting Phoenix in the second quarter by almost two-to- one en route to a 113-95 victory in the first game of the semifinals. Lynx

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(MGN Online)

Assistant Coach Jim Petersen told the MSR afterwards that giving up 57 second-half points to the Mercury simply won’t do.“We got to do better,”  he said.

Phoenix got 25 points from Diana Taurasi. However, it wasn’t enough to offset the 31-point effort by Maya Moore, who finished third in this year’s MVP race to Nneka Ogwumike, and 19 points by Lindsay Whalen, who shot 9-for- 12.

“It’s a long series,” said Whalen to the MSR. “We’re happy for tonight but Game 2 will be harder.” Petersen agrees: “This is a good basketball team,” he says of Phoenix. “They are trying to steal one game” in Minnesota before the series heads out west next week.

Wednesday’s game, the first WNBA game played at the Minnesota Wild’s arena in St. Paul, initially had a scrimmage-like feel — the fans were slow arriving and the arena stands weren’t on top of the court as is the case at their Minneapolis home. It made it seemed like no one was there, which may had accounted for the Lynx’s slow start because the team oftentimes feeds off the home crowd’s emotions and energy.

“It was a slow start but once they started playing, everyone got into it,” noted Delores Grant of Woodbury. She and her daughter and son were among the announced crowd of 9,013 at Wednesday’s contest.

A tough Renee Montgomery three-pointer at the two minute mark of the opening quarter broke the game’s fifth and final tie, and gave the winners a three-point lead, which the team eventually extended for as much as 25 points.

“I thought we settled into a grove in the second quarter,” said Whalen on the 31-point quarter that Moore scored 13.

Finally, Grant agrees with Whalen and Petersen — Friday’s game will be a tough one. “Phoenix is a good team. [Minnesota] must come out strong and keep it going,” she said.

Stay tuned to MSRNewsOnline.com for continuous coverage of the 2016 WNBA Playoffs.

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.