Lynx-Stars Preview

The Associated Press

Minnesota finished nine games ahead of San Antonio in the Western Conference, but the Stars showed in Game 1 of this first-round series that they're not going to back down from the defending champions.

After narrowly surviving at home, the Lynx look to advance to the conference finals by taking Game 2 on Saturday night in San Antonio in what could be Becky Hammon's final game.

Minnesota had a seemingly comfortable 15-point advantage with nine minutes remaining Thursday, but the Stars took a one-point lead less than five minutes later with an 18-2 run, capped by Hammon's three-point play.

But Maya Moore, named league MVP earlier in the day, hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds left to finish with 24 points and lift the Lynx to an 88-84 victory.

''That's what the playoffs are about,'' Moore said. ''It's about Option 3 and Option 4 and who can be more persistent at what they want to get. Becky will keep working until she gets what she wants, and we had to make it tough on her."

Hammon scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half and will be fighting to extend her career in Game 2. The 16-year veteran will retire at the end of San Antonio's season and take an assistant coaching job with the NBA's Spurs.

''She wants to keep playing in a big way,'' Stars coach Dan Hughes said.

"We know we're going to have to take it away from Minnesota. I don't care if that team doesn't have the best record. We all know that we're going to have to take it away from Minnesota."

Rookie Kayla McBride went 8 of 11 from the field and scored 20 points for the Stars. She had only nine against Minnesota on Aug. 15, but Jia Perkins came off the bench to score a game-high 23 in a resounding 92-76 victory in San Antonio.

Moore knows the Stars are going to come out aggressive on their home floor as they look to send the series to a deciding Game 3 on Monday in Minnesota.

"We won (the first) 40 minutes, and now we move on to the next 40 minutes," Moore said. "A win was definitely nice.

"We're going to have to come in with a heightened sense of focus next game. It was a great first half for us, though, so we have to come in and replicate that first half and bring it with us on the road."

Minnesota has won 18 of the last 21 meetings with the Stars, including postseason.

Whether or not the Stars can stop Moore could be the difference in this contest.

"That's the reason she's the MVP," Hughes said. "She impacts both ends of the court and she's a heck of a player, one heck of a player."