NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Lindsay Whalen scored 18 points while Maya Moore added 11 points and 10 rebounds to help the Minnesota Lynx beat the New York Liberty 73-47 on Tuesday night.
Minnesota (21-7) increased 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.
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 two teams met on Aug. 18 and the Lynx came away with an easy 88-57 victory. Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer was upset after that game that Moore was playing late in the fourth quarter 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.
Even with her team up 20 points in the fourth quarter, Moore made a spectacular diving save of a loose ball, jumping into press row. Whalen converted the great play into a layup on the other end.
Unlike the meeting nine days earlier, Moore exited soon after with 5:07 left and her team up 20 points.
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