Commentary

Lynx take over top spot in rankings

Originally Published: May 27, 2014
By Michelle Smith | espnW.com

Maya MooreAP Photo/Stacy BengsMaya Moore is the first WNBA player to score at least 30 points in four straight games.

There's a new No. 1 in espnW's WNBA power rankings. A look at the Week 2 lineup:

1. Minnesota Lynx (5-0; last week: No. 2)

The Lynx get the nod this week after winning the battle of unbeatens on the road Monday against Chicago. Minnesota isn't running away with games -- its past four contests have each been decided by five or fewer points -- but the Lynx are winning. Credit the record-setting scoring of Maya Moore, who became the first player in league history to put up at least 30 points in four consecutive games.

2. Chicago Sky (4-1; No. 3)

The Sky are off to the best start in franchise history and might be even better with the return of starting guard Epiphanny Prince, who was cleared to play and should be back on the floor this week. Prince averaged 15.0 points a game last season. What the Sky have done to this point -- with Price and star center Sylvia Fowles on the bench -- is all the more impressive.

3. Phoenix Mercury (2-1; No. 1)

The Mercury's strong start came to a temporary halt at the hands of San Antonio on Friday night after they failed to come up with another late rally. Phoenix is getting great balance, with Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner each averaging at least 14.0 points per game.

4. Los Angeles Sparks (2-1; No. 5)

The Sparks got Nneka Ogwumike back in the lineup on Sunday against San Antonio, and it made a clear difference, especially on the boards (led by Ogwumike's nine rebounds, L.A. outrebounded San Antonio 34-28). Candace Parker was freed up to do what she does best: everything. Parker finished the game with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals.

5. Atlanta Dream (2-2; No. 4)

The Dream have proven that with Sancho Lyttle on the floor and Shoni Schimmel distributing the ball, they are one of the top teams in the East. But Angel McCoughtry's sore shoulder kept her out of a game on Saturday and slowed her on Sunday in an overtime loss to Indiana. Her quick healing will be key for the Dream in the next few games.

6. San Antonio Stars (2-2; No. 6)

The Stars' loss at Los Angeles on Sunday cost them a chance at their first three-game win streak since 2012 (they won two games in a row only twice last season). Still, the Stars are the surprise team of the first two weeks thanks to the consistent play of point guard Danielle Robinson. And Becky Hammon is back in the lineup after missing the first three games of the season with an ankle sprain.

7. New York Liberty (1-2; No. 7)

The Liberty played the Lynx close, but have lost both of their home games so far despite the great play of Tina Charles (24 points and 14 rebounds against Minnesota and consecutive double-doubles).

8. Washington Mystics (1-2; No. 12)

The Mystics are 0-2 at home to open the season and finding their way with a young team. Mike Thibault is emphasizing that defense will get them through as their offense rounds into form. But this looks like a team that misses its go-to player, Crystal Langhorne. Washington needs more from Monique Curry, who is shooting 20 percent from the floor in the first three games.

9. Connecticut Sun (1-3; No. 8)

Getting the first win of the season against Seattle was a good place to start for this young team. Chiney Ogwumike is the top scoring rookie in the league, averaging 18.5 points per game.

10. Seattle Storm (1-3; No. 10)

The Storm avoided an 0-4 start as Sue Bird led Seattle to a win over the Mystics in Washington. Langhorne had 14 rebounds against her former team. Seattle's season-opening road odyssey continues with three of the next four games away from the Emerald City.

11. Indiana Fever (1-3; No. 9)

Without Tamika Catchings on the floor because of lower back soreness, the Fever are slowly figuring it out. They were able to avoid their worst start since 2001 with an overtime win at Atlanta over the weekend. It was the Fever's second overtime game against the Dream in the first two weeks of the season. Erlana Larkins' work on the boards will be key to the Fever getting through a Catchings-free stretch.

12. Tulsa Shock (0-2; No. 11)

The Shock are the only team in the league left without a win, but they've also played only two games in the first 13 days of the schedule. So maybe it's not quite fair to put them in the bottom spot. Tulsa came within one point of Minnesota last week, and is getting much-improved play from second-year guard Skylar Diggins, but the sample size is still too small to judge how much better the Shock have gotten.

Michelle Smith

Contributor, espnW.com

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