Moore leads Lynx over Liberty 73-47
NEWARK, N.J. — Even on a rare off-night offensively, Maya Moore found ways to help her team win.
She had 11 points and 10 rebounds to help the Minnesota Lynx beat the New York Liberty 73-47 on Tuesday night.
“She was struggling offensively but found different ways to impact the game,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Deflections, hustle plays, she’s a winner and that’s what winners do.”
Moore, who was coming off a career-high 35 points in her last game, was just 4 for 11 from the field.
“You always have to find ways to help your team,” Moore said. “Sometimes it’s scoring, but it’s always working hard.”
That was never more evident than in the fourth quarter with her team up 20 points, Moore made a spectacular save of a loose ball, diving into press row. Lindsay Whalen, who led the Lynx with 18 points, converted the great play into a layup on the other end.
“I don’t know that Maya knew we were up 20,” Reeve said. “She and everyone else on this team have a mindset that every possession matters.”
The victory helped Minnesota (21-7) increase its lead to 1½ games over Los Angeles for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Sparks played later Tuesday night. The Lynx lead Chicago by a game for the league’s best record.
New York (11-17) fell 1½ games behind Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty will host the Fever on Friday night.
“We laid an egg tonight but at the same time we come up to a bunch of basketball games now where if you look at a piece of paper we can win everyone,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We have to want it bad enough to compete for 40 minutes. We’ll take our chances when we compete for an entire game.”
Minnesota held New York to just 25 percent shooting (18 for 72) from the field.
The Lynx scored the first seven points of the game and New York could never get closer than three the rest of the way.
Cappie Pondexter scored 13 points to lead New York. She is 24 short of becoming the 12th player in league history to reach 5,000 career points.
The game came nine days after the Lynx beat New York in Minnesota by 31 points. Laimbeer was upset after that game that Moore was playing late in the fourth quarter of that contest with the contest well in hand. He got fined by the league for his postgame comments.
There was no carryover Tuesday night. Laimbeer said he went out to dinner Monday night with Reeve, who was his longtime assistant when the two were in Detroit. Reeve joked that she made Laimbeer pick up the check.
Minnesota jumped out to a 7-0 lead as New York missed its first 10 shots. The Lynx extended the advantage to 13 before Pondexter finally got going for New York.
With her team trailing 22-9 early in the second quarter, Pondexter scored seven points to cut the deficit to nine midway through the period. Pondexter had one move during the burst where she used a double crossover to get to an easy basket. That move brought Knicks guard J.R. Smith, who was sitting courtside, to his feet.
After Pondexter hit a 3-pointer that made it 28-19, Minnesota scored 11 of the final 13 points of the half to take a 39-21 lead. Whalen had six points during that spurt and finished the first half with 12.
Minnesota increased its advantage to 20 in the third quarter before New York went on a run to cut it to 45-34 with 2:30 left in the period. That’s as close as they would get as Minnesota scored the final six points to close out the quarter. Devereaux Peters was huge in the third quarter and finished the game with eight points and nine rebounds.