8:00 PM ET, August 17, 2012
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
After enduring their worst stretch in nearly two years, the Minnesota Lynx were able to go into the Olympic break on a high note thanks to a pair of meetings with the team that owns the fewest wins in the WNBA.Considering the caliber of their next two opponents, the Lynx have a good chance to rack up a few more victories as they return to the court.Minnesota welcomes back Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen when it looks for its second straight season sweep of the Eastern Conference-worst Washington Mystics on Friday night.The Lynx opened defense of their first league title with 13 wins in 14 games before starting July with three straight defeats. It was Minnesota's first three-game losing streak since a five-game skid July 17-29, 2010.The Lynx, though, caught a break before the WNBA shut down for the London Olympics. They played a home-and-home series with league-worst Tulsa and won those games by an average of 18.0 points."A lot of the things we did towards the end -- after the little bump of the losing skid that we endured during the first part of the season -- I think that as a team we found a lot more cohesion in our defense than we had even when we were winning previously," 41-year-old center Taj McWilliams-Franklin said.Following this matchup with Washington (4-15), the Western Conference-leading Lynx (15-4) host the Shock on Sunday night after beating them 89-74 in Minnesota in their final game before the break July 12.Moore matched her career high with 28 points while grabbing 11 rebounds in that meeting, Augustus added 14 points and Whalen scored 11 while dishing out eight assists.The three players then headed off to participate in the Olympics, where they helped the United States win a fifth straight gold medal."We had a lot of fun, we tried to enjoy every moment, tried to put everything into the games," Whalen said. "We all got to do it together, and I feel like we brought a lot to the team. ... We won the gold medal and now we're thrilled to be back and to get things going with the WNBA season here."Washington returned to league action Thursday night and was outscored 44-28 in the second half of an 84-66 loss at Indiana. Monique Currie had 12 points and seven rebounds while Michelle Snow scored 11 and also grabbed seven boards.The Mystics beat New York 70-53 to end a 16-game road skid in their last contest before the break July 13, and Snow knows it isn't going to be easy to get past a Lynx team that is 9-1 at home."Minnesota's playing unbelievable right now, defending champions," Snow told the Mystics' official website. "Against teams like that you really just have to try to outwork them and work really hard, play smart."Washington has lost 43 of 53 since the start of the 2011 season.One of those defeats came to Minnesota at home May 30, when the Lynx blew a 24-point lead before escaping with a 79-77 win as Whalen put back her own miss with a second remaining.