Gritty Fever top Lynx 75-69 in Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Leave a comment

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Briann January had 19 points and six assists and the Indiana Fever stole home-court advantage in the WNBA Finals with a 75-69 victory over the Minnesota Lynx in Game 1 on Sunday.

Marissa Coleman added 16 points and the Fever hit all 16 of their free throws in a rematch of the 2012 finals. Indiana won Game 1 of that series as well en route to the franchise’s only championship.

Maya Moore had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Sylvia Fowles add 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lynx. But Minnesota missed eight free throws and turned the ball over 15 times to drop the opener.

Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

Veteran Tamika Catchings had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Fever, who never got rattled by Minnesota’s boisterous home crowd.

The Lynx were 19-2 at Target Center in their playoff history, the best winning percentage in the WNBA. One of those defeats came at the hands of the Fever in Game 1 of the 2012 finals.

This one followed a similar script, with the determined and gritty Fever absorbing several haymakers from the Lynx and pushing back each time.

January – the tough-as-nails daughter of a karate instructor who has a black belt herself – led the way. She knocked down two tough jumpers late in the third quarter when the Lynx had pulled within four points and was right there in the end to ice it.

After the Lynx charged back to take a 62-61 lead with 4:28 to play, Coleman hit a 3 and scored on a backdoor cut off an inbounds pass. Then January crossed over Anna Cruz, Minnesota’s best perimeter defender, for a layup and a 68-63 lead.

January added another pull-up jumper before fouling out with 1:12 to play, and the Fever closed out another gutsy road victory.

Seimone Augustus had a quiet nine points on 3-for-11 shooting and Lindsay Whalen only attempted three shots for Minnesota.

The Lynx are playing in their fourth finals in the last five years. They have won two championships, but were stunned by the Fever in 2012, a loss that ultimately prevented what could have been a run of three straight titles. After losing to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals last season, the Lynx avenged the defeat by sweeping the Mercury in the conference finals this year to set up a rematch with the only team to beat them in the finals.

A ragged first quarter ended 10-10, but Moore got going in the second quarter to spark the Lynx. She scored on a finger roll, a steal and a pretty hesitation drive to the basket and also set a great screen to free up Fowles for another layup that gave them a 26-21 lead in the second quarter.

But the Fever weren’t about to back down.

January scored seven straight Indiana points, Catchings got on the board after an 0-for-4 start and Erlana Larkins beat the buzzer with a layup to give Indiana a 35-29 lead at the break.

AP source: Liz Cambage traded from Dallas to Las Vegas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DougFeinberg

Lynx star Maya Moore to skip ’19 WNBA season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.