Published November 20, 2014
The Minnesota Lynx are having their finest season in franchise history.
But they're not allowing themselves time to enjoy their strong regular season so far.
On Tuesday, the Lynx won their seventh in a row, breaking open a close game with a 14-2 fourth-quarter run, and surging past the Phoenix Mercury 90-73.
And then they barely took time to look back, focusing on the next challenge to their perch atop the Western Conference.
"It's just on to the next one, one at a time," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, after her team improved to 14-4. "It can turn in an instant, for whatever reason, and we don't want to be that team that lets our guard down."
Maya Moore had 22 points, and Seimone Augustus added 21 for Minnesota.
Leading by five points after three quarters, the Lynx scored 11 unanswered to open the fourth and Phoenix had no answer.
"Coach has a way of pressing my buttons, and she said a few things that hit my core and got me going," said Augustus, who was just selected Western Conference player of the month for July.
The Lynx are enjoying the rivalry they've developed with Phoenix.
"They've proven themselves and won championships, and we want to be where they are," Augustus said. "If we're going to pick a fight, we're going to pick a fight with the best in the West."
Phoenix was playing without starting center Kara Braxton, who missed the trip to Minnesota while attending to a family matter.
Diana Taurasi, dealing with foul trouble much of the night, still had 20 points to lead the Mercury (11-8) who have lost three of their past four.
"They looked good in the fourth," Taurasi said. "I'm frustrated we lost. Foul trouble happens. It happens to everyone, but we have to find a way to work out the things we're not doing really well."
The Lynx led by nine in the first half, but settled for a 41-38 advantage at the break after Phoenix made a late run. Moore hit her first five consecutive 3-point attempts and had 19 points at the half to lead all scorers. Marie Ferdinand-Harris had nine points in the first 20 minutes to lead the Mercury.
"My teammates were setting great screens for me, we were moving the ball, and I was just feeling it," said Moore, who was selected the league's top rookie for July. "The energy was good and the ball was going in."
Taurasi, limited to just 11 minutes and four points in the first half due to foul trouble, got hot in the third with 12 points.
The teams will play two more times in the regular season, with both games in Phoenix.
"It's going to be interesting," Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. "The way I see it, we'll probably meet them down the line in the Western Conference championship. It should be good. I've got veterans, so we don't need home court."
Reeve, in her second year in Minnesota, still seemed unsatisfied, pointing out the fact that her team shot just 62 percent from the free-throw line.
"We actually just fired our free throw coach and you guys can submit your resumes," she joked with the media afterward. "I'm happy that we won, but there were a lot of things we didn't do real well. Typical coach, griping and complaining."
Minnesota's Taj McWilliams-Franklin led all rebounders with 10.
Dewanna Bonner had eight rebounds for Phoenix, which will play six of its next seven at home.