Lynx maul Mystics to close in on league's top record

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lindsay Whalen scored 21 points and had five assists as the Western Conference champion Minnesota Lynx kept rolling with a 73-56 win against the Washington Mystics on Tuesday night.

Maya Moore added nine points for Minnesota (24-6), which has won six games in a row. With Tuesday's win and Eastern Conference-leading Indiana's 92-90 loss at Atlanta, the Lynx are one win or an Indiana loss from clinching the WNBA's best record, which would guarantee home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 13 points. Matee Ajavon scored 10 points for Washington, which lost its ninth straight game.

Minnesota wasn't about to let down in its first game since clinching the franchise's first Western Conference title on Sunday. Coach Cheryl Reeve has said her team is focused on more than just making the playoffs: The Lynx want to finish with the league's best record, which would ensure home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

"I don't think there is a player that will say, 'No, I never look at teams' records I just play them straight.' That's not true. That's not realistic," said Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who finished with five points, five rebounds and five steals. "I think that the way to keep on track is to play as hard as you possibly can every moment you're on the floor. I think that any doldrums or complacency you may have, you can fight it by playing as hard as you possibly can every moment."

Minnesota finished the third quarter with a 13-0 run to turn a one-point game into another double-digit victory. The Lynx have won a league-high 16 games by 10-plus points this season and entered Tuesday outscoring opponents by an average of 8.1 points per game.

Minnesota was in a battle with the league's second-worst team on Tuesday, though. Washington used a 10-0 run to take a lead at the end of the first quarter and two teams stayed close until midway through the third. The Lynx outscored the Mystics 17-6 in the third quarter.

"We just went on a drought," said Washington's Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 13 points. "We couldn't score the ball and we had some turnovers, and against a team like Minnesota who is so talented offensively, we can't let them get transition baskets and things like that."

Whalen scored 17 in the first half keeping the Lynx close until her teammates were ready to pick up the slack.

"She was MVP," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "I think some people are writing about that. I think she definitely supported those writers that are saying that. She was my one starter that I thought was just balling out. We needed it.

Every Minnesota player scored and the Lynx shot 56.1 percent from the field.

In the offseason, Washington was the team that believed it was heading toward a special season. The Mystics had the East's best record in 2010 before an early exit in the playoffs.

Washington then traded for Minnesota's all-star center Nicky Anosike in the offseason. Anosike had played three seasons for the Lynx after being a second-round draft pick, but the Mystics wanted Anosike's size and rebounding and gave up a first-round choice to get the 6-foot-3 center.

After a tough season which has included key injuries to Alana Beard and Monique Currie, Washington is near the bottom of the standings. Minnesota receives the Mystics' first-round pick next season, which should be at least a top-four selection.