MINNEAPOLIS, MN — She did it again! Maya Moore saved the Lynx from elimination, which forced a deciding game 5, and did not disappoint the packed Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday.
It all came down to just one game: Game 5
The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx were battling it out for the WNBA championship title, and what an intense game it was!
Moore was explosive, yet again, racking up 12 points, five rebounds and five assists all within the first half.
She was outstanding in game four, amassing 31 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks and her stellar play continued as she carried her team again in Game 5.
Once again, Moore was so effective offensively in the final game of the series. This was not the first time Moore and the Lynx have played in a decisive game five situation. In 2015, Minnesota won in Game 5 behind Moore’s prolific performance.
She knows how to make productive plays at the right moments in the game — which she did more than once against the Sparks. Moore was getting the job done on both ends of the floor as she played two-way basketball hitting shots offensively and hustling on defense; she was unstoppable.
It was not all that easy though. The Sparks gave Moore a run for her money, applying pressure and a constant drive as they fought to win as well.
Neither team was dominating the other. There were 11 lead changes before the half and with just five minutes left in the third quarter, Los Angeles tied it up, 44-44. Neither team led by more than six points through the third.
Moore was put to the test in the fourth. LA was in attack mode, leading 62-59 with less than eight minutes remaining in the quarter. Los Angeles was fighting for their first title since 2002, and Minnesota was looking to earn their fourth title in just six years.
Moore missed a necessary two-pointer with just over four minutes left and shortly after, Kristi Toliver scored a tough three pointer at the end of the shot clock, putting Los Angeles up 69-63. That shot gave the Sparks the cushion they needed as they edged even closer to winning the game.
But the Lynx weren’t done, specifically Moore.
Moore wouldn’t let the Sparks get away as she went on to she score a signature, catch and shoot shot from beyond the arc, and then made a perfect assist to her teammate to make it a two-point game with less than two minutes left.
Moore is known for making those huge plays in the final moments of big match ups and Thursday night she did the same thing.
Moments later, she came down the court again and made another shot, this time a fadeaway baseline shot, putting the Lynx ahead by one, but it wasn’t enough.
With two seconds left, Nneka Ogwumike pulled down an offensive rebound, then put the shot up to make the game winner.
Lindsey Whalen had a half court shot attempt for the win, however wasn’t close, giving the Sparks the win, 77-76.
While Minnesota lost the championship Thursday night, Moore was a star on the court for her team. Once again she did not disappoint as she led her team with 23 points, three steals, six rebounds, 11 assists and mostly importantly — left her heart on the court for the Lynx.
“Maya Moore is just -- she's an incredible player,” said Sparks coach Brian Agler. “And not to slight anybody else on their team because they've got a bunch of really good players, great players, Olympians, but she's special. She's as good as there is, and probably will stay at that level and make everybody raise to her level as time goes on.”