Fowles, Lynx pull out tense Game 2 to even WNBA Finals 1-1

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Sylvia Fowles and the Minnesota Lynx walked off the court after Game 2 of the WNBA Finals standing tall, responding with an aggression and desperation that was sorely needed after losing homecourt advantage in the opener.

Coach Stephanie White and the Indiana Fever finished the night crying foul after star Tamika Catchings was limited to 24 minutes of playing time.

Fowles had 21 points and nine rebounds and the Lynx evened the best-of-five WNBA Finals at one game apiece with a 77-71 victory over the Fever on Tuesday night.

Fowles, who turned 30 on Tuesday, made 10 of 13 shots. Maya Moore added 19 points and eight boards for the Lynx, who are looking for their third championship in the last five years.

“I think we learned some things and we showed some grit,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Indiana was going for that knockout with the second win on the road. I appreciated our resilience.”

Briann January scored 17 points and Catchings had 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists while struggling through foul trouble for the Fever, who nearly won their second straight game on the road to open this rematch of the 2012 series won by Indiana.

“This game was a bloodbath,” White said. “I’ve never seen a player, of Tamika Catchings’ caliber get so disrespected in my life. Never. And to me that’s a travesty. That’s a travesty. ”

Reeve spent the day between Games 1 and 2 publicly chiding the officials for allowing Indiana’s defenders to get so physical with guard Lindsay Whalen. She wouldn’t comment on if she received a fine for her remarks, but the rookie coach White said Reeve the veteran showed her how to control the narrative.

Catchings had two fouls in the first 5:30 of the game and picked up her fifth with 4:13 to play in the third quarter and the Fever up by eight. When she went to the bench, the Lynx pounced.

Just 2 for 7 in the first 25 minutes of the game, Moore scored six points in under two minutes, assisted on two more buckets and grabbed a key rebound off of a missed free throw to spark a 17-5 run that closed the third quarter and gave the Lynx a 63-59 lead.

“First and foremost, I learned a valuable lesson today,” White fumed. “I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known that.”

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Reeve said, “I cannot comment on the officiating.”

Moore scored eight of Minnesota’s 14 points in the fourth quarter, two on technical fouls given to Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman that helped the Lynx hold off the Fever.

“We just lost focus,” Catchings said. “As a team we lost our poise, we lost our composure. We’re too good for that. We’re too good of a team to let things like that deter us in what we’re trying to do, trying to accomplish.”

Game 3 is Friday night in Indianapolis.

“It’s going to be a dogfight, just like it has been these first two games,” Moore said. “It’s set up to be a very entertaining Game 3. Both teams are very hungry.”

Seimone Augustus scored 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting and the Lynx outscored the Fever 21-8 on second-chance points after losing that category 22-12 in the opener.

While the rest of her team struggled through the first 24 minutes, Fowles stood tall in the paint. She made nine of her first 11 shots and held down the fort before Moore got going.

“Sylvia’s a beast,” White said. “She’s one of those players … that the only person who limits her is herself. With that body, with that athleticism, with how quickly she gets up in the air, she should dominate.”

Catchings was playing in her 64th career playoff game, tying Taj McWilliams-Franklin for most in WNBA history.

Despite the loss, the Fever return home for Games 3 and 4 with the chance to close out the series without having to come back to Minnesota.

“I’m very frustrated with how the game went, but more so because I wasn’t on the court,” Catchings said. “As a great player, you should never be sitting on the bench. You should never put your team in a situation where they have to play without you. So I’m frustrated and you better believe I’ll be ready.”

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.

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

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.