NEW YORK (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx were the preseason favorite to win the Western Conference and a third WNBA title in five seasons. Until this week, they were looking up in the standings.
Now they are back on top of the West ahead of the surprising Tulsa Shock, who won eight of their first nine games. The Shock have faltered on their current road trip and Minnesota has moved into first place.
“It’s not that we were playing poorly, just that some other teams were playing well,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Maya Moore’s numbers are down from last season when she was the league’s MVP. She’s averaging 17 points, almost seven fewer than last season, and she’s shooting a career-worst 40 percent from the field. Still, Reeve isn’t concerned.
“She’ll get it going,” the veteran coach said. “Everyone expects her to put up 30 points a night, but she’s doing other things to help us be successful.”
The Lynx (8-2) lost early on to Phoenix and then to the Shock. Minnesota also found itself down 18 points at Seattle before rallying for the three-point victory.
“That’s one of those games we’ll look back on later in the season and say how it was a turning point for us.” Reeve said.
Here’s a look at other things happening in the WNBA:
SIDELINED SKYLAR: Tulsa received the bad news this week that guard Skylar Diggins will miss the remainder of the season after tearing her right anterior cruciate ligament.
Diggins suffered the injury on June 28 with 44 seconds left in Tulsa’s four-point win over Seattle. She finished the game with a season-high 31 points. The Shock (8-4) have dropped all three games without their All-Star and finish out a four-game road swing on Tuesday in Atlanta.
The Notre Dame graduate is in her third season and at the time of her injury led the Shock to wins in eight of their first nine games, averaging 17.8 points. She was the WNBA’s most improved player last season and was on the league’s first team.
Diggins will undergo reconstructive surgery, but a date for the procedure has not been set.
“I’m focused on getting healthy and stepping on the court even stronger,” Diggins said in a release from the team. “For the remainder of this season, I will continue to support my teammates in every way possible.”
STAT OF THE WEEK: Mercury star Brittney Griner had her fifth career dunk and the 11th ever in the regular season on Sunday against Los Angeles. Griner, who sat out the first seven games to serve a suspension for her domestic violence arrest, finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Phoenix is 3-1 since Griner returned.
STREAK BUSTER: Elena Delle Donne’s streak of 58 straight free throws made came to an end against Connecticut on Thursday night. The WNBA’s leading scorer missed her first free throw attempt before making her next six. She finished with the single-season record passing Lindsay Whalen’s mark of 54 straight set in 2009. Delle Donne, who is 97 for 100 this season from the line, was 10 short of the league mark set by Eva Nemcova during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Sun at Sky on Sunday. The two teams played an exciting game in Connecticut on Thursday with the Sky rallying for a three-point win. The Sun were missing star forward Kelsey Bone, who was serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul 2. She’ll be back for this contest.
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