SEATTLE — Storm forward Tina Thompson was blunt: “The system is flawed,” she said.
Thompson was talking about media voting when it comes to postseason awards, votes too often based on preconceived assumptions instead of actual merit built during the season. Minnesota point guard Lindsay Whalen could be an example.
Maya Moore scored 20 points and Whalen added 19 as the Lynx defeated the Storm 73-60 to clinch a third consecutive Western Conference regular-season title. Seattle’s loss coupled with Phoenix’s win against New York solidifies the Storm as the No. 4 seed — facing the Lynx, again, in a best-of-three opening-round series next week.
The Lynx (25-7) defeated the Storm in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs 2-1. The Lynx swept the Storm in the four-game regular-season series by an average of 17.3 points.
“We’re competitors. You want to play them 50 times until you get the win,” said Storm guard Tanisha Wright, who finished with a team-high 14 points and five assists.
Whalen took over in the first half as Minnesota’s normal steady offensive players — Moore, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson — struggled to get their shots.
Whalen was 6 for 8 from the field in the opening half for 17 points, scoring eight in the second quarter to build a 40-28 Lynx lead at the break.
Moore took over in the second half to blow open the game. She finished with 20 points while Sixth Woman of the Year candidate Monica Wright had nine of her final 14 points after the break.
Midway through the third quarter, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve took Whalen out with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Another steady night to help push the Lynx winning streak to seven games.
“Going against Tanisha Wright, who’s a hell of a defender, that matchup concerned me,” Reeve said of the third consecutive game against Seattle. “I told Lindsay she needed to be more assertive. When she did, it gave energy to the others and we were able to play off that. She just has a knack for knowing when she should step up and score, when she should penetrate and kick. That’s what makes her really special.”
Seattle was without point guard Temeka Johnson (sore ankle), who missed her first game.