With their backs against the wall, who else to turn to but Maya Moore. She was absolutely magnificent tonight as she led the Lynx to victory, 85-79. Her 31 points were the most she has ever scored in the Finals and she had more free throw attempts in this game than the first three games combined. Throw in three steals and two blocks on defense and Moore was far and away the MVP in this game tonight.
She, as well as the rest of the team, were much more aggressive on offense in this one. They were attacking the rim and getting out in transition as they won the fast break point battle 22-4. Rebekkah Brunson was in foul trouble early and with Janel McCarville out due to her back, the team was thin in the front court.
Cheryl Reeve decided to go small with Moore at the four and it paid off. It forced Candace Parker to defend her and she used her quickness to get open shots off screens from her teammates. Parker failed to take advantage of her size enough on offense, as she was held in check most of the game even with the smaller Moore defending.
Surprisingly, the Lynx had 16 turnovers which led to 18 points but they were able to hold a lead most of the game. They dominated the rebounding battle 41-25, 14 of those coming on the offensive end. The Olympians carried the brunt on that front. Sylvia had her 13th career playoff double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Moore added nine boards, Seimone Augustus seven and Lindsay Whalen had six.
Hitting the boards has been the team’s bread and butter all season long, which is why they lost the last game when they were out-rebounded 29-24. The team was active on every part of the floor, a welcome change from the sluggish play in Game 3. The poise this team had the whole game was not unexpected but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
This is a championship team and they played like it. Even with the Sparks hitting big threes and getting 20 points from Chelsea Gray off the bench, they never wavered on what they wanted to do. “This is what a finals game should look like,” Reeve said after the game.
Moore played 34 minutes but the team could have used her the whole game. Every time she came out, the Sparks would start to close the gap. After leading by six at halftime, LA got to within one with 1:43 left in the third. That’s when Reeve brought Maya back in and she did her thing.
She scored a three right away and when Gray answered with one of her own, she negated it with another three from straight away. Fowles blocked Nneka Ogwumike on the next possession and after an offensive board by Whalen, Moore drew the foul against Beard. She hit the free throws to give the Lynx their six point lead back heading to the last frame.
“If we were going down, we were going out fighting, and we were able to bounce back and match their runs, and giving ourselves a little cushion to have that edge,” Maya said after the game. She added eight more in the fourth as they grinded out the win. She was great all game with help defense, and she had the game sealing steal as Ogwumike received the inbound pass with Fowles on her.
Nneka deserved the MVP for her amazing regular season but the Lynx kept her in check tonight. They held her to a measly (for her) 50 percent shooting and she only had 11 points. With her and Parker struggling to produce, Gray stepped in but it wasn’t enough.
Now, the team gets to head home to defend their title in Game 5 Thursday night. “Game 5 in Minneapolis. We’re excited,” said Moore. I’m excited, too.