Lynx in middle of playoff battle; Liberty on outside looking in

The WNBA's 2018 playoff race has become a wild jumble.

The teams currently occupying the spots between No. 2 and No. 7 are separated by 1 1/2 games. The league's top nine teams are all within six games of each other.

The Minnesota Lynx (14-10), who have won two in a row to climb into a fifth-place tie with the Washington Mystics, have another chance to improve their position on Tuesday when they host the 11th-place New York Liberty at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Minnesota is coming off a big win in Phoenix thanks in large part to Maya Moore's season-high 38 points. The victory over the Mystics (15-10) clinched a 2-1 regular-season advantage for the Lynx.

"It was definitely a wild one," Moore said after the game. "In games like this, you have to be able to execute. When it's wild and the energy is going everywhere, it's hard to get a rhythm in either direction."

Minnesota now holds a tiebreaker over Phoenix for playoff seeding.

"There were moments where our emotions got away from us," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game that featured five technical fouls and two ejections, "but I thought overall being in such a hostile environment we did a good job. I'm proud of us. That was not an easy win for us to get."

Reeve called center Sylvia Fowles assertive after Wednesday's 89-65 rout of Indiana. Minnesota, which had lost three of four before the two wins, needs its two stars to keep stepping forward.

"As everyone knows, when (Fowles) plays like that, it's generally hard to beat us," Reeve said.

"There are some games where she's just not as assertive as she was today. We've really been on her about it. It's a gift of Sylvia Fowles that she has this physical way about her. No matter what teams do, she has athleticism and she has strength that they aren't going to keep her from where she wants to be."

New York (7-17) has dropped three straight and is coming off a 95-78 loss to the Washington Mystics that left it 5 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.

"It's going to be rough, trying to get in (the playoffs)," Liberty coach Katie Smith said, according to the website Elite Sports NY. "I think for us, it's going out every night and being proud of what we did. Wins or losses, not sure, it's tough to win in the league.

"But for us, it's about going out with nothing to lose and showing up every night, just trying to improve what we're doing, surprise some folks by getting a few wins."

The loss guaranteed New York will not finish with a winning record for the first time since 2014.
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