Maya Moore still found flaws in her performance minutes after winning the WNBA title.
That mentality offers insight into why she's a champion again. Moore scored 23 points to help the Minnesota Lynx to an 86-77 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night and a three-game sweep of the WNBA Finals.
"There's always ways I could have been better for my team, but I didn't stop playing," she said after being selected the Finals MVP following the clinching game at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. "I never stopped playing. I always tried to move on to the next play, and so does this team."
Minnesota went undefeated in the playoffs and won its second title in three years.
Thursday's game was tough in the fourth quarter, as Atlanta, which lost Games 1 and 2 by 25 points each, was determined not to be embarrassed again.
"It wasn't easy," Moore said. "That's what a championship is supposed to be. It's supposed to be hard. And when it got hard, we came together and stuck with it and secured that victory. I'm just really proud."
Now, there is talk of a run the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Houston Comets rolled through the competition in the league's early days. Houston won the league's first four titles.
"I don't want to say a dynasty because we haven't gotten to the Houston Comets level yet, but we have a pretty damned good team here I think that can probably go for another," Minnesota's Seimone Augustus said. "We can probably get up to the Houston Comets level if we keep going."
Rebekkah Brunson finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, Lindsay Whalen had 15 points and six assists, Augustus scored 14 points, and Janel McCarville added 10 points for the Lynx.
Tiffany Hayes scored 20 points and Alex Bentley had 18 for the Dream.
Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry, who led the league in scoring during the regular season, scored 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting from the field and committed six turnovers. She was 16-for-56 (28.6 percent) from the floor in the series.
"I think it's been a tough series for her," Atlanta coach Fred Williams said. "It's been a tough playoffs, period, for Angel."
Minnesota rolled out to a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes. Atlanta made a run late in the first quarter to cut the Lynx's margin to 17-13 with McCoughtry on the bench. Whalen was fouled with 0.4 of a second left in the first quarter and made all three free throws to extend Minnesota's lead to 25-17 at the end of the period.
The Dream cut Minnesota's lead to 34-32 on a 3-pointer by McCoughtry, her first field goal of the game, with 3:57 left in the second quarter. Minnesota made another run, but Bentley's three-point play with 3.3 seconds left in the second quarter trimmed the Lynx's advantage to 40-37 at the break.
"Everyone expected us to give up, but we kept fighting, and I think it definitely showed in this game," Hayes said.
Minnesota regained the momentum in the third quarter on a spectacular play. McCarville got out front on a fast break and bounced the ball between her legs to a trailing Brunson, who scored and was fouled. Brunson made the free throw to push the Lynx's lead to 51-42.
"Five- or six-point, tooth-and-nail game, to go between your legs to another post player, that's J-Mac," Whalen said. "That's what she brings to the team. She was unbelievable tonight. I really thought honestly she set the tone for us tonight at the start."
A three-point play by Monica Wright increased Minnesota's advantage to 60-44. Atlanta got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
"You've got to give them their props," Bentley said. "They have great players on their team and they work well together and they fight hard."
NOTES: Atlanta fell to 0-9 in WNBA Finals games. ... Minnesota outrebounded Atlanta 44-35 in Game 1 and 40-22 in Game 2. The Lynx won the rebounding matchup 30-29 in Game 3. ... McCarville scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field in the first quarter. ... McCoughtry had three turnovers in five minutes in the first quarter while going scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting from the floor.