If you need an illustration of what it means to be a "pure scorer" vs. a "great shooter", look no further than Maya Moore's performance during the Minnesota Lynx's 77-60 win against the Seattle Storm today on ESPN2.
After a scoreless first quarter, Moore scored 16 of her game-high 26 points in the third quarter - including nine points in the first three minutes of the half - to help remove any doubt about the outcome of the game. And it was the way she went about getting those points that was ultimately more impressive than the fact of the scoring outburst.
Maya was held scoreless the first 15:39 of the game, she had 22 points over the next 14:21.
— Alan Horton (@LynxRadio) July 13, 2014
Unable to find a rhythm in the first half, the first play the Lynx ran in the second half involved Moore coming off a screen for a 3-pointer from the left wing. After that, it was a combination of brilliant usage of screens, backcuts, and sharp jab steps off the catch that Moore used to find her way to easy scoring opportunities and skillfully create opportunities over and around Storm defenders.
It was a beautiful display of not simply piling up points but beautifully navigating the court to find her way out of a rut on a rough day. Add to that a game-high 12 rebounds and 4 offensive rebounds and you have a fairly complete performance from one of the league's greatest stars.
Although basketball still doesn't formally recognize the "screen assist", Lynx center Janel McCarville deserves ample credit for setting screens to set up Moore and others against a scrappy Storm defense in addition to her 13 points and 7 rebounds.
For the most part, this was a game that the Storm would probably rather forget: they were out-scored 30-16 in the third quarter and shot just 33.8% from the field during the entirety of the game. While Moore was torching them on the defensive end in the third quarter, they struggled to hold on to the ball offensively - they had 5 of their 12 turnovers in the first two minutes of the third quarter, which contributed to the 23-point deficit they found themselves in by the final two minutes of the quarter.
But the lingering effect of this game will probably come from the frightening injury Shekinna Stricklen sustained in the first half.
With 3:26 left in the second quarter, Stricklen drew a charge call during a fast break on Lynx guard Tan White but fell flat on her back leaving her head to take a hard bounce off the floor. After a few minutes of laying on the floor while receiving medical attention, she was removed from the court on a stretcher. ESPN color commentator Carolyn Peck would later report that Stricklen was diagnosed with a neck sprain but fortunately never lost consciousness after the head impact.
We can only hope for the best for Stricklen, not only in terms of her return to action but also her health off of it.