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Augustus, Moore Lead Lynx Past Sparks

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(credit: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

(credit: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Maya Moore’s first home game didn’t start the way she had planned it. No problem for the No. 1 pick as she finished it in style.

Moore scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half and the Minnesota Lynx defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 86-69 on Sunday.

Seimone Augustus led the Lynx with 17, who beat Los Angeles for the first time in nine tries. The teams split their season-opening series, with the Sparks winning Friday night in L.A. after overcoming a 10-point second-half deficit.

“It’s about darn time we beat L.A.,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I asked (center) Taj McWilliams-Franklin if we were ready when I was in the locker room and she said, ‘Coach, we are so (angry) about the game we let go.’ They played that way … with a sense of urgency.”

Moore, who scored 21 points in her WNBA debut in Los Angeles, had a rough first half Sunday, hitting only 1 of 5 shots while playing just over 7 minutes after picking up two quick fouls.

Meanwhile, the Lynx saw a 12-point second-quarter lead cut in half as the Sparks hit 3-pointers on their last two possessions before the break, including Ticha Penichero’s heave from just inside the half-court line at the buzzer that pulled L.A. to within 46-40.

That’s when Moore took control. She stole the ball on the Sparks’ first possession of the second half and fed Lindsay Whalen for a fastbreak layup, then hit back-to-back 3s that forced a Los Angeles timeout.

“We said we were going to get those six points back and Maya took it personally,” Reeve said of her halftime talk.

Moore added two other long jump shots and hit Whalen for an open 3 as the Lynx outscored Los Angeles 24-10 in third. It was a breakout stretch for the player many expect to become the WNBA’s next big star, but after the game Moore said she wasn’t trying to do anything more than help her team avoid a second straight collapse against the Sparks.

“I was just wanting to make up for the way we ended (the first half),” Moore said. “We knew we had to come out and be aggressive.

“I like how we responded,” she added. “I’ve always heard that the character of a team is tested after a loss.”

Kristi Toliver led the Sparks with 13 points, while Tina Thompson and Candace Parker each scored 11.

Meanwhile, Whalen had 10 points and seven assists for Minnesota and Rebekkah Brunson added 10 points and 15 rebounds, her second straight double-double after setting a franchise record with 12 last year.

The Lynx dominated the boards, holding a 44-28 advantage after being outrebounded by eight on Friday. They also outscored Los Angeles 18-2 on the fastbreak and blocked four shots, including Moore’s memorable swat of a Thompson shot that sent the ball three rows deep into the stands and brought the sellout crowd to its feet.

“She puts the ball in the hole for us and that’s great, but she made so many big plays on defense for us too,” Reeve said of her rookie guard.

Monica Wright and Amber Harris each scored 11, giving the Lynx six players in double figures on the day.

“That’s who we said we wanted to be. That is the depth,” Reeve said. “Our bench is not bad, and nights like this with six people in double figures, that’s what we want to be.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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