INDIANAPOLIS – Saturday people were still buzzing about what Maya Moore had done. Moore, though, insisted that nothing was finished.
Perhaps. But that didn’t take away the impact of Moore’s buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave the Lynx an 80-77 victory over Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. Moore took the inbounds pass from Lindsay Whalen with 1.7 seconds left, faked Marissa Coleman, dribbled and shot.
In those 1.7 seconds, Moore gave the Lynx a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five WNBA Finals while thrusting herself into league finals history.
It was the top play on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” Shortly after the game a bevy of high-profile NBA players hit Twitter. Chris Paul, in China with the L.A. Clippers, tweeted, “Sick!!!!!” Klay Thompson called her cold-blooded. Ricky Rubio tweeted: “Clutch. One more to go.”
Even Prince tweeted at Moore.
“It’s fun to be on this side of it, having been able to step up and finish the game,” Moore said Saturday. “But we were that close to not doing it. We have to remember that. As exciting as it was, there is a lot of work left to be done. The WNBA title wasn’t won last night.”
She was referring to Sunday’s Game 4. The Lynx want to close this series out. They know the Fever has been in — and won — four elimination games already in the 2015 playoffs. A Game 5 would be Wednesday at Target Center. But the Fever closed out the Eastern Conference finals on the road in New York.
That didn’t dim the impact of the game — capped by The Play — that, playing out on national television, was seen by many as a possible watershed moment for the league. And it didn’t stop the continued analysis of the play.
Reeve talked about the savvy way Whalen read the Fever defense and made the right play; Whalen hadn’t played in the fourth quarter to that point, with Anna Cruz and Renee Montgomery playing so well. But she was patient enough to wait as Moore set up Coleman to get the ball at the right spot.
Even Coleman, who admitted how painful it was for her, knew how special the moment was.
“She’s a great player, she made a great play,” Coleman said. “That’s what the finals are all about. [Friday] night it hurt. I watched it a few times. But this morning I woke up with a smile on my face.”
Both teams know how close this series has been. And that’s why both know it isn’t over.
“You have to let it go,” Indiana guard Briann January said of Friday’s last-second loss. “Carrying around those thoughts and feelings from a loss isn’t going to do anything to help you be successful. Let it burn, let it sink in, learn from it and move on. [Sunday] is a fresh slate.”
The Lynx know that, too. But they also know they have Moore, who has averaged 23.3 points and nine rebounds in the series. She scored 24 points in 22 minutes Friday, exploding for 12 points in the fourth quarter after having to sit the final 8½ minutes of the third after getting her fourth foul.
Seimone Augustus, who played a game-high 37:14, came to the bench at the end of the third quarter and said, “You owe me.’’
“I do, you’re exactly right,’’ Moore responded. Moore then went out and scored five points in the first minute of the fourth quarter and she was off.
By the time it was over Moore had made history and the Lynx had put themselves within a victory of a third title in five years.
And there was the feeling that perhaps more people were taking a look at the league.
After the game Moore got a text from a friend: “They said their kid was watching the game and said, ‘Mommy, I want to be like that someday.’ That’s a full-circle moment for me.”