BY MIKE PEDEN
There was an air of uncertainty at Target Center Thursday night for the Minnesota Lynx's regular season home finale against the Chicago Sky.
Statistically, neither team had anything to play for, with Minnesota preparing for their playoff run while Chicago was eliminated earlier this week.
However, uncertainty was replaced by MVP talk after the Lynx defeated the Sky 78-69. Guard Lindsay Whalen scored 20 points with 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers, the first time any player has put up that many numbers without coughing up the ball. Not to be overshadowed, guard Seimone Augustus scored a game-high 22 points.
"They played harder than any team would expect from a team that's not going to be in the playoffs," Augustus said.
Augustus was right. The Sky (14-18), known for close battles with the Lynx, shut down the opposing post players to prevent a runaway. Center Sylvia Fowles scored 11 of her 17 points in the first quarter. When the Lynx (26-7) contained her, guard Erin Thorn picked up the slack. 15 of her 17 points came after the first quarter, including four three-pointers.
The Sky even took the lead briefly in the fourth on an Epiphanny Prince three-pointer. The Lynx were clinging to a 67-66 lead with 3:49 left before finishing the game with an 11-3 run to prevent another home upset in front of 8,781.
"The guards were aggressive. They hit a couple tough shots when we were rotating. We had to earn everything we got," said rookie forward Maya Moore, who scored 16 points.
While Fowles will be watching the playoffs the same way fans do, she will have a rooting interest in former Louisiana State University teammate Augustus.
"She's back to where she needs to be, and I think her game is only going to get better," Fowles said.
Although predicting who will receive MVP is complicated by the subjectivity of the voting process, Augustus believes Whalen's final regular season home output was a great last-minute campaign effort.
"She's the floor general. She gets me the ball when I need it, she gets everybody in places where they're comfortable," Augustus said.
Augustus was not unnoticed either.
"Seimone is one of those players that puts those daggers in other teams when they're just starting to get a run," Moore said.
Minnesota on the road against the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday, where the Mercury will attempt to be the league's lone team to win a season series against the Lynx. Minnesota's next home appearance is next Friday, after Phoenix's victory over Tulsa Thursday night cemented San Antonio's fourth seed for the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Watch a pregame interview with Seimone Augustus where the mystery of Mike Peden's headband is answered.
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