Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lynx run down Dream


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.

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