ATLANTA - Seimone Augustus dribbled out the last seconds of Friday's game. As soon as the buzzer sounded, teammate Candice Wiggins came running off the bench and jumped into her arms.
The Lynx had climbed the highest mountain in their sport. They were celebrating a WNBA championship after beating Atlanta 73-67 on Friday at Philips Arena. They swept the Dream 3-0 in the WNBA Finals despite trailing every game at halftime.
Their season-long identity was a balanced attack, and it was on display one last time before an announced crowd of 11,543. Augustus' 16 points were 20 fewer than she had in Game 2, but Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Wiggins all had between 15 and 10 points.
Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry, with Augustus her primary shadow, scored 22 points on an arm-tiring 25 shots. It was a paltry total compared with the 33 and 38 points she had the first two games.
For her offense and defense, Augustus was chosen the playoffs MVP.
"I am so grateful I had an opportunity to play with you wonderful women," Augustus said during the MVP presentation. "We are like sisters."
In their 13th season, the Lynx finally got everything right.
A team with four WNBA All-Stars shared the ball. A team known for being soft turned into a stone wall on defense at times. And a team that usually faded late in the season finished strong.
This was the sixth playoff victory in a row for the Lynx, a franchise with two playoff appearances and one playoff win before.
"[This] is a reinforcement that when you do things the right way, great things happen to you," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Through trades, WNBA drafts and free-agent signings, the Lynx slowly built their championship team. Every addition brought another vital cog. Augustus, the shooter, came first in 2006. Lindsay Whalen, the playmaker, and Brunson, the rebounder, arrived two years ago.
And, finally, the Lynx added a savvy veteran, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and Moore, a rookie who won more games in her college career than any other player.
The parts fit so well, the Lynx, after stutter-stepping to a 5-3 start, compiled the best regular-season record in the league at 27-7. That was a 14-win improvement over last season, the second-best ever.
A 7-1 playoffs performance validated the Lynx's rise from downtrodden to the league's best team.
"I always believed in the ability and the presence of this team from the beginning," McWilliams-Franklin said.
Reeve, always cautiously hopeful, said a Lynx midseason victory in San Antonio on Whalen's last-second basket convinced her that this team was special.
"Whay hit that shot in the corner," Reeve said. "There were just little things that happened when times got tough [in that victory] that really showed me a lot."
Four days later, McWilliams-Franklin hit another buzzer-beater against San Antonio. In their first 12 years, the Lynx made three last-second game-winners.
On Friday, the Dream was ahead 37-33 at the end of the first half, but the Lynx trailed at halftime the first two games, too.
Moore's three-pointer as the shot clock approached zero put the Lynx ahead 64-56 with 2:30 to play. The final eliminaton blow to the Dream? Nope.
The Dream started creating havoc, forcing two turnovers, and surged back with a 7-0 run to within one point with 1:17 left.
The oldest Lynx, who always seems calm, restored order. McWilliams-Franklin made four consecutive free throws and Whalen one to push the Lynx's lead to 69-63 with 35 seconds left.
Time to switch airplane flights back to Minneapolis. The Lynx are coming home early -- as champions.