By Dave Campbell | Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Maya Moore had 23 points, including three 3-pointers in the first quarter to propel Minnesota from the start, and the Lynx delivered a dominant 84-59 victory over the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday night.
Moore shot 10-for-16 from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds, and Monica Wright pitched in 20 points off the bench. Seimone Augustus scored her usual 19 points, and the Lynx overwhelmed the Dream by leading the entire game and shooting 49.4 percent from the field.
Angel McCoughtry finished with 17 points for the Dream, but she needed 24 shots to get there, making just six field goals. Aneika Henry added 14 points for the Dream, who fell to 0-7 in the finals since 2010. They were swept by the Lynx in 2011.
Game 2 is here in Minnesota again on Tuesday night, with the best-of-five series shifting to Georgia for Game 3 on Thursday night.
Their four-game loss to Indiana in the finals last season not forgotten, the Lynx have played with even more of an edge this season, welcoming the tenacity, strength and slick passing ability of center Janel McCarville to the lineup to join her old pal Lindsay Whalen from their days together at the University of Minnesota.
Henry and Erika de Souza gave the Dream some early production inside, but the Lynx didn’t bother tussling much with them in the post. They snagged the defensive rebounds they needed, enjoying a 31-19 advantage in that category, and simply launched swish after swish from the corners and the wings with some hustling, highlight-reel fast breaks mixed in.
The Lynx went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter to pull away, with five players scoring during the spurt. They had 14 assists in the first half, to four for the Dream.
McCoughtry started the third quarter by clanking a 3-pointer off the rim. Then she had a fast-break layup stolen by Whalen on the next possession, her complaint to the officials for a foul call ignored. A little later in that period, McCarville leveled McCoughtry with a jarring screen. Then she peeled off, caught a pass and swished a jump shot for a 48-31 lead. The players ran by as McCoughtry sat on the court, still dazed from the collision.
Then right before the buzzer at the end of the quarter, Augustus hit a 3-pointer to push the advantage to 68-43. She pivoted and pumped her fist in celebration.
The Lynx have long believed this is Moore’s league to take over, and the third-year small forward has gradually become more assertive with the ball while still deferring to team leader Augustus. She had 27 points in the clinching game of the Western Conference finals over Phoenix and has 109 points in five playoff games this year.
The Lynx have won 13 of their last 14 games, a one-point loss to Los Angeles, which had the second-best record in the league in the regular season, their only setback. They improved to 26-0 this year when outshooting their opponent and 26-1 when giving up less than 80 points.
The streaky Dream brought the lowest regular season winning percentage of any team to reach the WNBA Finals, their 10-1 start having disappeared during a slew of injuries. After losing nine of 12 games including their playoff opener to Washington, they reeled off four straight wins to get here.
But the Lynx are quite the formidable opponent.