MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore scored 20 points apiece and Seimone Augustus added 18 to lead the Minnesota Lynx to an 85-62 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday night.
Diana Taurasi scored 15 and Brittney Griner had 13 points and six rebounds for the Mercury, who now face a must-win situation in Game 2 in Phoenix on Sunday.
Both teams started out cold on, but Minnesota recovered quickly and turned the first half into a mismatch. After hitting just one of their first six field goal attempts, the Lynx made 16 of their next 23 shots, while Phoenix was just 9 for 37 (24.3 percent) for the half.
Whalen, a first-team all-WNBA pick, scored just 13 points in Minnesota's two-game sweep of Seattle in the conference semifinals. The changed Thursday when she hit her first five shots and finished the first half 7 for 10 for 14 points, one of three Lynx in double figures before halftime. She finished the game with six rebounds and five assists - team highs in both categories.
Minnesota has won all six meetings with the Mercury this season, but they hadn't played since July 24.
The Mercury went 9-4 down the stretch after naming Russ Pennell their interim head coach.
The Mercury advanced to the conference finals by upsetting second-seeded Los Angeles, winning both road games in their best-of-three semifinal series. But they quickly discovered that the Lynx were going to be a tougher out.
Minnesota's 12-2 playoff record at Target Center is the best postseason home-court advantage in WNBA history, and the Lynx swept Phoenix in the conference finals en route to winning the 2011 league title.