MINNEAPOLIS — The defending champion Minnesota Lynx got a reminder from the San Antonio Stars that nothing comes easy in the postseason.
Hours after being named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player, Maya Moore scored 24 points to help the Lynx beat the Stars 88-84 Thursday night in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.
Minnesota led by 15 with nine minutes to go before the Stars went on an 18-2 run to go ahead, 73-72, with 4:12 to play. However, Seimone Augustus scored six of her 16 points in the final 2:11 as Minnesota recovered.
“I was happy for a large part of the game, then something bad happened. Up 70-55 we kind of had them right where we wanted and then the bottom fell out defensively,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, crediting Augustus, who has battled knee problems this season, for righting the ship. “Mone was big. Those last three baskets were huge for us.”
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Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at San Antonio on Saturday night.
Kayla McBride scored 21 points to lead the Stars. Becky Hammon scored 14 of her 17 in the second half, including a spinning shot with 1.9 seconds left that pulled the Stars within two.
“She wants to keep playing in a big way,” Stars coach Dan Hughes said of Hammon, who will retire at season’s end to become an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. “I’ve had a ringside seat for about 50 of those, so that didn’t totally surprise me.”
However, Moore made two free throws with 1.3 seconds left and the Lynx beat the Stars for the 18th time in 21 meetings.
INDIANAPOLIS — Tamika Catchings had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Indiana Fever to a 78-73 win over the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Ivory Latta scored 22 points for Washington, and Emma Meesseman had 17.
Catchings became the WNBA’s career leader in postseason rebounds and her 21st playoff double-double is also a record.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Saturday at Washington.
• Phoenix’s Sandy Brondello is the WNBA’s coach of the year and Mercury center Brittney Griner is the defensive player of the year. They will receive their awards Friday night in Phoenix before the Mercury playoff opener.