MINNEAPOLIS -- The PG version of this story goes something like this:
Before Tuesday's Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals, veteran Minnesota guard/forward Seimone Augustus received a call from her grandmother, Sarah Augustus, back home in Louisiana. Seimone Augustus, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time All-Star, had a quiet season by her standards, averaging a career-low 10.9 points. She did, however, tally a career-high 127 assists.
But scorers, even aging ones, need to crank it up in the postseason. Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve pushed the 33-year-old Augustus in practice this week to look for her shot more. On Tuesday, Grandma Augustus chimed in more forcefully.
"She apparently told her, '[The assists are] great, but shoot the ball,'" Reeve said. The request apparently also included an adjective that Augustus gracefully chose not to repeat.
One can never say that Augustus doesn't listen to her elders. She poured in a season-high 24 points, her best playoff performance since 2012, in a 101-81 rout of Washington. The Lynx made a franchise-record 12 3-pointers, and the onslaught stunned the Mystics, who beat Dallas and New York in single-elimination games for their deepest postseason run since 2002.
"We got bombarded," Washington coach Mike Thibault said. "I'm not sure they knew we were out there for about 15 minutes. Not a lot you can say. They had an edge to them, and we played a little bit on our heels."
The Lynx shot 59.4 percent from the floor and hit 12 of 17 from beyond the arc, at one point sinking nine consecutive 3-pointers.
That Minnesota shot this well at a temporary venue -- Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota, where the Lynx practiced twice -- was stunning. The Lynx hardly needed much from point guard Lindsay Whalen, who managed two points and two assists in 17 minutes, her first action since she broke a bone in her left hand six weeks ago.
Washington's Kristi Toliver -- who hit a league-record nine 3-pointers in the Mystics' second-round upset of the third-seeded Liberty -- never got going. Defended by Whalen and Renee Montgomery with frequent double-team help, Toliver finished with only three points, shooting 1-for-7 from the field. Elena Delle Donne led the Mystics with 17 points and six rebounds.
Montgomery had 18 points off the bench, with four 3-pointers. Center Sylvia Fowles, believed to be the front-runner for WNBA MVP, tallied 18 points and seven rebounds. Augustus, who added five rebounds and three assists, laughed when recounting her grandmother's call.
"For the most part, she said be aggressive, which is I what I've been hearing from my coaches all week," Augustus said. "I said, 'OK, Granny.'
"Renee has been shooting well for the last few games. For the rest of us, that's something we've been doing over the last eight games, getting reps, trying to create a situation where we can loosen up the defense for Sylvia."
"I always say when Seimone plays well, we don't lose."Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve
The Lynx finished the regular season on an offensive tear at home, exceeding 100 points three times in their last four games. But other nights, Reeve had seen enough long stretches of offensive stagnation to fear that Washington would pull away if the Lynx hit another lull Tuesday night. She needed somebody besides Fowles to score.
In the first half, she got it from Augustus (13 points) and Maya Moore (10) from the perimeter. The Mystics cut an 11-point lead to three midway through the second quarter, and then Moore hit a jumper, Fowles a layup and Montgomery a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to push the lead to 10. Then Augustus found the hot hand, sinking three jumpers as the Lynx went to halftime leading 53-38.
"She was unbelievable, just starting out aggressive, hitting her shots, midrange, some 3s," Whalen said.
Augustus kept it up at the start of the third quarter, making five of six shots from a variety of ranges and finishing with a 3-pointer for 11 points in less than five minutes. At one point, a confident Augustus appeared to say something to Toliver before breaking her down one-on-one and dropping in a floater. Vintage Seimone.
"We want her ready in the playoffs to do these sorts of things," Reeve said of Augustus, who averaged 27.7 minutes per game in the regular season. "We need Seimone. I always say when Seimone plays well, we don't lose."
"She was unbelievable."Lindsay Whalen on teammate Seimone Augustus
Thibault feared something such as this from Augustus, who was 11-of-17 from the floor. The Lynx needed someone besides Moore to score and prevent defenses from collapsing inside on Fowles, whose scoring fell off late in the season as she took a physical pounding. Moore finished with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
"The big key for them tonight was they ran Seimone off a bunch of screens, and she got herself going more than she has the last month," Thibault said. "We felt their coaches would probably spend the week trying to get her going. They've had Sylvia going all season. They got Maya going the last month. I think they felt like they needed a third scorer. We'll go back, watch film and see if we can find some ways to counter them."
Williams Arena, where Whalen played in college, is the third home arena for the Lynx in two years. Unable to use the Target Center, which is in the last stages of a lengthy renovation, the Lynx played their regular-season games 10 miles east in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center. Their crowd followed. And they picked up some new fans along the way, averaging more than 10,000 in the home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild.
But this week, a Target Corporation shareholders meeting and the Wild's training camp necessitated another move. The Lynx had considered Williams, better known locally as The Barn, for the regular season but nixed it because the nearly 90-year-old arena lacks air conditioning. For the playoffs, the Lynx paid $1 million for a temporary air conditioning system that, to the delight of the crowd of 7,834, blew cold air so well that the retired number banners of Gopher men's greats swayed in the breeze in the rafters.