Lynx dominate Silver Stars, win 5th straight game

Published 1:59 pm Saturday, July 20, 2013

SAN ANTONIO — Lindsay Whalen was not selected to start in the upcoming All-Star game, so she demonstrated Friday night that she is the spark behind the league-leading Minnesota Lynx.

Whalen had 21 points and seven assists and the Lynx rolled by the San Antonio Silver Stars 87-71 for their fifth straight victory.

“She’s one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever coached,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We’re just following her lead. If you look at each of these games, Lindsay Whalen is just coming out and setting the tone for us. She’s hardnosed, she’s tough-minded and she’s physically tough. She really led the way for us.”

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Maya Moore added 14 points, Devereaux Peters had 13 points, and Janel McCarville scored 10 points for Minnesota (12-3), which has won seven of eight.

Shenise Johnson, Danielle Adams and Jia Perkins each had 13 points for San Antonio. It was the fifth loss by 20-plus points this season for the Silver Stars (4-12), who have dropped four straight.

Already without Sophia Young and Becky Hammon, who both suffered season-ending knee injuries, San Antonio lost DeLisha Milton-Jones to an injured right knee late in the first half. The severity of Milton-Jones’ injury is unknown, but the 15-year veteran was on crutches after the game.

“It’s a major struggle,” Perkins said. “I honestly don’t even know what to say. We just have to come together as a team and keep believing.”

The outcome was apparent early for the defending champion Lynx. Minnesota’s starters outscored its San Antonio counterparts 58-37.

Moore and Seimone Augustus, who had four points, were chosen Western Conference All-Star starters earlier in the day through fan voting. Whalen is expected to be selected when reserves are announced Tuesday for the July 27 game in Connecticut.

The West’s starting lineup will be without one of the league’s most intense players in Whalen, as the Silver Stars found out.

“Pushing the ball was definitely big for us,” Whalen said. “I thought that’s what we tried to do the whole night, was just make those plays and play together as a team.”

The Lynx were methodical offensively, exploiting defensive switches with an extra pass to shoot 73 percent from the floor in the first quarter.

“The last couple of days of practice we’ve been locking in on moving the ball and giving extra (passes),” Moore said. “Our offense is so fun when we play that way and share the ball. We have so many offensive weapons that we can attract so much attention and get those extras.”

Minnesota had 25 assists while shooting 37 for 73 from the field.

Whalen had four assists in the opening quarter and was 5 for 6 from the field. Her only miss was a near full-court shot that hit the side of the rim at the buzzer to her dismay.

“That’s how good she was feeling,” Reeve said. “A three-quarter court shot had a chance to go in. She knows that would have made SportsCenter.”

Minnesota opened the game on a 17-6 run and extended the lead to 12 in the first quarter, 19 in the second, 26 in the third and 27 in the fourth.

“We were really locked in and focused,” Moore said. “The way we started the game was really crucial. I thought we set the tone. We were aggressive on both ends, connected, helping each other. We do that, it’s really hard to beat us.”

After San Antonio opened the second half with a pair of baskets to pull within 46-35, Reeve quickly called a timeout to chastise her players.

“She told us to lock in and make sure we’re staying home on our assignments and not letting them get going too much,” Whalen said. “We just needed to focus in.”

Minnesota went on an 8-2 burst following the timeout.

Sugar Rodgers’ 3-pointer gave Minnesota a 66-40 lead with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

San Antonio finished with only 11 assists while shooting 38 percent from the field.

“I don’t think we did a good job at spacing,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “I don’t think we did a good job of getting ourselves open in situations to really facilitate it. We went inside a little bit and got some reward out of that, but normally we are a team where at the end of the day you look and ask, ‘How many assists did you have …?’ We had 11 out of 25. That’s about as bad as I have seen us be, and we need to move the ball better than we did today.”