MINNEAPOLIS — With Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore around, Lindsay Whalen’s focus generally isn’t on scoring. That doesn’t mean she can’t.
Whalen scored 20 points to lead the defending champion Minnesota Lynx to a 78-70 victory over the Seattle Storm in the opener of their WNBA Western Conference semifinal Friday night.
“Of course we know they’re going to pay a lot of attention to Seimone and Maya, they’re great shooters and great players,” Whalen said. “We all know we have to step it up and make plays as well.”
Augustus scored 19 points, Moore added 16 and Rebekkah Brunson had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota.
The Lynx shot 46 percent against a Storm team that held opponents to a league-low 39 percent this season, and hit 22 of 28 free throws.
“They have multiple weapons out there,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “If you give too much attention to any one person, someone else will take advantage of it. Tonight, (Whalen) took advantage.”
Reserve Shekinna Stricklen scored 13 points to lead the Storm. Katie Smith and Lauren Jackson added 12 points each, with all of but one of Jackson’s coming in the first half.
“I didn’t get the looks I was getting in the first half,” Jackson said. “They changed their defense up.”
Jackson, a three-time WNBA MVP, didn’t play in any of the teams’ four regular-season games as she was training for the London Olympics. The Lynx won three of those matchups.
Jackson played a season-high 27 minutes, but it wasn’t enough as Seattle shot just 39.7 percent from the floor and never led. Minnesota improved to 18-0 when holding opponents below 40 percent this season.