Sparks can't stop Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus in Game 2

MINNEAPOLIS -- It happens so often that most Minnesota Lynx players recognize when it's coming, like the low rumble of an approaching subway train. It's the way Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus carry themselves: steely eyes, a bounce in their step, things that indicate focus and purpose. Then, at precisely the right time, they rise up and take over a game.

When Moore and Augustus are rolling, like on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 2 of the WNBA finals, the Lynx are practically unbeatable.

Minnesota squared the series with a 79-60 victory, largely on the shoulders of Moore, who bounced back from her uneven Game 1 with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Augustus, who scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half to fire up the sellout Target Center crowd of 12,832.

There were other significant contributions, like 13 points and 15 rebounds from Sylvia Fowles, who led Minnesota's 46-32 domination of the glass.

But Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has said for years the Lynx can't lose when Augustus plays with passion and engagement. Forward Rebekkah Brunson said Moore should be included in that assessment, as well.

"Mone, when she's in it, she's in it. It's exciting. And when Maya knocks down the shots she's knocking down, it gives us fuel," Brunson said. "It's great playing with them, because they're intense, they're passionate about what they do, and you always feed off that type of energy."

Reeve doubted Moore slept much after the 78-76 loss in Game 1, when the Sparks held her scoreless in the first half. Moore finished with 18 points, but Alana Beard's buzzer-beater stung the Lynx.

"There are only so many things you can do to take your mind off a loss like that," Moore said. "Falling asleep was pretty hard. Fortunately, I didn't have any nightmares.

"But this team bounces back well. And I'm a part of that. I took it upon myself today to bring more energy than I did last game."

Moore hit her first basket, a pull-up jumper, less than three minutes into the game. The Lynx finished all four quarters with nice runs, and Moore was right in the middle of a 17-3 burst just before halftime. She got it started with a 3-pointer and driving layup, added another 3-pointer and then fed Lindsay Whalen for a breakaway layup. Moore's energy contributed to a 39-25 halftime lead.

"More than anything, I think Maya wanted our team to play the way we're capable of playing, and I thought she gave us a big lift with her focus and her intensity," Reeve said. "She had a double-double. She got rebounds. She made some 3s. She's really hard to guard with all the little shot fakes. She was very, very active, and I think Maya had a lot of fun today."

Augustus did too, though it took Minnesota's senior player in years of service awhile to get going. The Lynx acquired veteran backup guards Anna Cruz, Renee Montgomery and Jia Perkins in large part to limit wear and tear on the 32-year-old Augustus' bad knees.

This season, Augustus averaged career lows of 11.2 points and 26.3 minutes per game, but she reached the postseason with reasonably healthy legs. Augustus shoots with her legs as much as her right arm. The Lynx know her as "Money Mone" when the shots start falling.

Whalen, her teammate since 2011, saw something in the dreadlocked Augustus at the morning shootaround. "Her look," Whalen said. "I knew she was ready to come out and play a great game."

Moore picked up on it, as well. "The dreads get a-poppin'," she said. "The nostrils get a-flarin'. She just gets that look in her eye."

But Augustus remained quiet until the start of the third quarter, when she scored Minnesota's first five points -- a technical foul shot, then back-to-back jumpers -- for a 44-27 lead. The Sparks trimmed the gap to three before Moore took over again, hitting a jumper and another 3-pointer, as Minnesota took a 54-46 lead to the fourth quarter.

Augustus, who quickly quelled any Sparks rally with a pair of conventional three-point plays, isn't stoic, especially when shots start dropping. And she might still be celebrating the first if Whalen hadn't hugged her.

"I just tried to attack more in the fourth quarter," Augustus said. "Throughout the game, I tried to attack, and it just so happened to fall my way. The fans were kind of sitting on their hands a little bit, and I think that helped them get into the game. The Target Center started rocking. Once we got that run going, there was no turning back."