Lynx-Sun Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Lynx still cling to the WNBA's top record despite a recent slump.

Perhaps facing the owner of the league's worst mark will help them get back on track.

Minnesota visits the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night looking to sweep the season series.

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Losers of four of five, the Lynx (18-7) still sit atop the league, though Los Angeles trails them by only a half-game in the Western Conference. Their potent offense - which averages a league-best 83.2 points - is sputtering somewhat, averaging 78.8 points in regulation over the last five.

Minnesota suffered its second straight road loss Tuesday in an 88-75 final at Atlanta. The Lynx outscored the Dream 29-14 in the third, but went nearly eight minutes without a field goal in the final period while being outscored 22-5.

Maya Moore, who finished with 23 points, was held scoreless in the fourth as Minnesota committed eight of its 18 turnovers.

"They did a good job of finishing," Moore said. "Our bad offense gave them transition points and against Atlanta you can't afford to turn the ball over as many times as we did, because they're really good at exploiting that."

Moore doesn't appear to be very culpable for the team's recent struggles. She's averaging 21.6 points on 53.3 percent shooting over the last five games, including a 51.4 percent clip from 3-point range.

She's averaging a career-high 17.8 points on the season while knocking down 44.4 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc. She scored 26 in a season-opening 90-74 home win over Connecticut on June 1.

Having lost five of six, the Sun (7-17) continue to fade out of the East playoff picture.

After being without Allison Hightower the last three games due to a strained right knee, the Sun announced Tuesday they would be without the All-Star guard for the rest of the season. Hightower was the team's third-leading scorer with 12.8 points per game.

Connecticut opened with a 15-0 lead at Chicago on Sunday but still wound up with an 89-78 loss.

The Sun held the Elena Delle Donne-less Sky to 29.4 percent field-goal shooting in the first half before being outscored 62-35 in the final 20 minutes.

"Extremely frustrated," coach Anne Donovan said. "We had a great 20 minutes in the first half playing good defense, scoring off of our defense. And in the second half - give credit to Chicago, they came out ran better offense, got more aggressive offensively. And 62 points in a half is pretty amazing."

Reigning league MVP Tina Charles had yet another inefficient game, scoring 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting. She's averaging 13.6 points on 34.6 percent shooting during a 1-4 stretch for Connecticut. Charles is making a career-low 39.8 percent of her shots this year.

The Sun got 22 points each from Charles and Kara Lawson in the loss at Minnesota, though they were a combined 17 of 41 from the field.

Connecticut had won seven straight meetings at home until an 85-72 loss last year. A victory Thursday would mark the fifth straight season series split.

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