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PHOENIX – Brittney Griner collected 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Phoenix Mercury defeated the defending league champion Minnesota Lynx 85-71 on Friday night in the opener of the best-of-three Western Conference finals.

Penny Taylor added 16 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Mercury, which built a 25-point lead in the third quarter. Minnesota reduced Phoenix’s lead to 10 in the fourth quarter but didn’t seriously threaten.

Game 2 is Sunday in Minneapolis.

Diana Taurasi added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists for Phoenix on a poor shooting night (5 of 15).

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Lindsay Whalen scored 25 points to lead the Lynx.

The Mercury limited Maya Moore, the league’s leading scorer and most valuable player, to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting.

“We have been so consistently good on the defensive end all season long and that was the key for us,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said.

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