BY MIKE PEDEN
Friday night's game between the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx at Target Center was considered another part in the season-long test of credibility for Minnesota.
The Lynx had not played for the last seven days following their road win over Seattle, and fans were concerned about team sluggishness. Those worries faded after one half, as Minnesota displayed a convincing second half performance en route to a 96-85 win over Atlanta.
Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson tallied her fifth double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Guard Seimone Augustus scored 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor, and guard Lindsay Whalen added 16 points and eight assists in the victory.
Augustus credited a team practice earlier this week against a men's pickup squad for previewing Atlanta's athleticism while keeping Minnesota in shape.
"They went full force at us. They dunked on us. They did everything to make us tougher for this game," she said.
Although the Dream (1-4) never led by more than six, and never saw the lead in the second half, their 22 first-half points in the paint established control through the first half.
"They got a lot of second chance points, and they were able to beat us in the first quarter," Brunson said.
The Lynx (4-1) opened the third quarter on a 15-4 run to break a 39-39 halftime tie and never looked back, no matter how many times the Dream attempted to reel them in.
"Our color is blue, we got to pass to blue. Their color is white and we passed it to white. We're beating ourselves, and it's very frustrating," said Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry, referring to their 18 turnovers.
"We came out ready," Brunson said. "We had to get some stops, get some rebounds and start to play offense and transition the way we wanted to."
Offense came with little difficulty on the Lynx's fourth straight win, as the team made 52 percent of their field goal attempts.
Perhaps the biggest basket came with 6:16 left in the fourth, when Whalen intercepted a pass and dished to Maya Moore for a fast-break lay-up, electrifying fans and Lynx teammates on the bench at Target Center.
There was one scare in the third, when Augustus took an elbow to her pelvis. Although the bruise benched her for a few minutes, she returned no less worn.
For Atlanta, McCoughtry scored a game-high 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Center Erika de Souza finished with a double-double of her own, netting 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The two teams meet for the final time this season on Sunday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Although Minnesota's third quarter showing was enough to seal the win, Augustus saw the fourth quarter as a teaching moment.
"We got to keep them out of the paint. That's where the majority of their points come from," she said.
Programs available for DVD purchase
Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)
What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15
From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15
Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15
Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15