Friday, September 9, 2011

MVP candidates make last push in Lynx home finale


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.

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