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East is coming down to the wire in WNBA

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NEW YORK (AP) There’s one week left in the regular season and the only thing decided in the Eastern Conference is that New York is the top seed.

The Liberty clinched the No. 1 spot with a victory over Minnesota on Sunday and now need just one more victory or loss by Minnesota to secure home-court throughout the playoffs. New York (22-9) has matched the franchise record for victories set in 2010.

“It was important for us to clinch the Eastern Conference home-court advantage tonight. That was goal number one,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. “Goal number two, obviously, both teams eyeballed each other tonight as a possible overall league-best record.”

Chicago sits in second, 1 1/2 games in front of Indiana. The Sky already clinched the second winning season in franchise history and will most likely face the Fever in the opening round of the playoffs. Indiana has a two-game lead on fourth-place Washington.

The Mystics still haven’t clinched a playoff berth but can do so with one more victory or a loss by Atlanta. Washington lost to the Dream on Sunday and the two teams meet again next Sunday to close out the regular season.

While the seeding in the East is still a work in progress, the West is pretty much set barring something crazy happening this week. Minnesota has a two-game lead on Phoenix. Tulsa sits in third and Los Angeles clinched the final spot in the West on Sunday and has secured the fourth seed. The Sparks can still move up to third if they win their remaining two games and the Shock drop all three of theirs.

STAT OF THE WEEK: It was a pretty good week for Elena Delle Donne. She scored the 1,500th point of her career Sunday and was honored with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.

“That really means so much to me,” said Delle Donne, who turned 26 on Saturday. “Growing up, my parents always raised me to give back and I always knew if I ever got a spotlight I was going to do something far bigger than myself and give back. So an award like that really means the most to me.”

FOND FAREWELL: Sophia Young-Malcolm played the final home game of her career Saturday. The nine-year veteran announced her retirement earlier this week.

“I don’t necessarily think that it has hit me yet,” she said after the 82-52 loss to Phoenix on Saturday. “I feel like it is just another game, and maybe after this season is over that is when it is going to hit me, when I realize it. We keep saying it, but it hasn’t necessarily hit yet. It doesn’t feel like it is the last game that I am going to be playing at home, but it has been great. Obviously I am sad that we lost by so much, but it has been great.”

Young-Malcolm scored eight points in the loss. San Antonio’s final two games are on the road.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Mercury at Shock, Sunday. Tulsa will play its final regular season game in Oklahoma when the Shock host Phoenix. There’s a good chance that these two teams will meet in the postseason in the first round.

AP source: Liz Cambage traded from Dallas to Las Vegas

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The Liz Cambage trade saga is finally over.

The 6-foot-8 Australian has been traded from Dallas to Las Vegas for Moriah Jefferson, Isabelle Harrison and the Aces’ first two picks in 2020, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal hasn’t been announced.

Cambage, who finished second behind Breanna Stewart in WNBA MVP balloting last year, said in January she no longer wanted to play in Dallas. Potential deals the past few weeks that never materialized had weighed on Cambage, who took to social media with emotional posts this week. Cambage is in Australia and is expected to get to Las Vegas this weekend.

The 27-year-old center set a league record last season by scoring 53 points against New York. She averaged 23 points and 9.7 rebounds last year.

The move gives the Aces a formidable frontcourt by pairing Cambage with rookie of the year A’ja Wilson.

Dallas receives a point guard in Jefferson and a talented post player in Harrison. Jefferson was the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft by the franchise when it was in San Antonio. She averaged 13.9 points as a rookie but injured her knee in 2017.

She was limited to just 16 games last season. Harrison was the No. 12 pick in 2015 by Phoenix, but missed her rookie season with a knee injury. She had a breakout year in 2017, averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. She sat out last season because of a medical issue.

Cambage was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft. She played that season and in 2013 for the Tulsa Shock but sat out in 2012 and again from 2014-2017. The franchise moved to Dallas in 2016. Cambage returned to the WNBA last season with Dallas and hit it off with Wings coach Fred Williams. Cambage took it hard when Williams was fired a few weeks before the end of the season. Williams is an assistant with the Sparks.

After last season, Cambage left the door open to not returning to the WNBA, citing the league’s low salaries. She excelled for Australia at last fall’s FIBA World Cup, helping the team earn a silver medal. Cambage told the AP at the World Cup she would take some time to decide whether she wanted to come back the WNBA.

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Lynx star Maya Moore to skip ’19 WNBA season

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore has decided to skip the upcoming WNBA season, seeking more time to devote to her family and her faith.

Moore announced Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune website that she’ll sit out in 2019. She already had taken the fall and winter off from international competition. The five-time first-team All-WNBA honoree has helped the Lynx win four championships since her rookie year, 2011.

“The success that I’ve been a part of in basketball truly blows my mind every time I think about it,” Moore said in her post. “But the main way I measure success in life is something I don’t often get to emphasize explicitly through pro ball.”

Raised by a single mother with strong Christian beliefs, Moore has spoken often about her desire for a well-rounded life steered by biblical principles . She quoted from scripture in her brief essay and, without citing specifics, said she plans to invest time in “some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.”

Reforming the justice system has been a particular passion of hers , including a personal interest she has taken in the case of Jonathan Irons , who was imprisoned in Missouri in 1997 by what his supporters contend was a wrongful burglary conviction at age 16.

“I’m sure this year will be hard in ways that I don’t even know yet, but it will also be rewarding in ways I’ve yet to see, too,” Moore wrote. “I’m thankful to my Lynx family and others close to me who have been walking with me during this shift, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Last season was only the second time since Moore was drafted first overall that the Lynx didn’t reach the WNBA Finals. Moore was eighth in the league in minutes and seventh in points in 2018. She has missed one game in eight seasons, with career averages of 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

“We support her in this exploration and will continue to provide her the love and care she has always known from her Lynx family,” general manager and head coach Cheryl Reeve said in a statement distributed by the team.

Moore, who went to high school in the Atlanta area she now calls home, was given the franchise tag last month by the Lynx, preventing her from becoming a free agent. The 29-year-old, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award in 2014, expressed her fatigue — and her eagerness for some extended rest — near the end of the 2018 season, which saw the Lynx ousted in the first round of the playoffs. The league compressed the 34-game schedule by three weeks from the 2017 slate.

Moore was the top vote-getter for the All-Star game last summer in Minnesota, but she passed on the team captain responsibility that would have required her to draft from the 22-player pool. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks took her place, joining Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics in assembling the sides. Moore had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the exhibition to earn her third straight All-Star Game MVP award.

Moore also opted out of the Women’s Basketball World Cup, the first major event she wasn’t on the U.S. national team for since the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place before the start of her sophomore season at powerhouse Connecticut.

The Lynx, too, are in flux following the retirement of five-time All-Star point guard Lindsay Whalen, who became coach at her alma mater, Minnesota. They start their season May 25 against Chicago.