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Lynx beat Mercury to seize control of playoff destiny with 2 games left

Minnesota has won 20 of 23 regular-season games against Phoenix since August 2015, including 10 straight in Arizona.

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With a pair of games left, the Minnesota Lynx controls their playoff destiny.

Aerial Powers scored 14 points off the bench and provided a fourth-quarter spark, and Minnesota won 86-77 at Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Moriah Jefferson scored just six points, including a dagger with 35 seconds left, but added a career-high 12 assists. Jessica Shepard scored 15 points and added a dozen rebounds.

Minnesota has won 20 of 23 regular-season games against Phoenix since August 2015, including 10 straight in Arizona.

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The Lynx now sit in 11th place in the 12-team league, 1½ games behind Atlanta, New York and Phoenix who are tied for seventh. Minnesota has four games left, three against teams that would currently be in the playoffs.
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The Lynx (11-19) are now 1 1/2 games behind the Dream but the Phoenix Mercury (12-16 entering Thursday) and New York Liberty (12-17) are also in contention.
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Minnesota shot 42.9 percent from the floor and were 6 of 13 from behind the arc
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Five players scored in double figures for Minnesota (10-18), led by Aerial Powers with 14 points.
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For the game, the Lynx committed 16 turnovers and shot 33% from the field while tallying a season-low 57 points — led by 16 from Kayla McBride, who felt the Lynx got good shots that simply weren’t going down.
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Playing their third game in four nights, the Lynx (10-16) moved within a game of Phoenix for the WNBA's final playoff spot with 10 games left.

Minnesota, Atlanta, New York and Phoenix are tied for seventh place in the standings at 14-20 with Los Angeles one game back. Only two will make the postseason; however, the Lynx own the first tiebreaker over the other three teams.

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The Lynx, who have won four of their past five, have two tough games left: home against Seattle (20-13) on Friday and at Connecticut (22-11) on Sunday.

Powers, who’s started 30 of 33 games, returned to the Lynx lineup after missing Sunday’s game with left knee soreness.

She scored on a drive with 2:46 left and converted a pair of free throws after getting fouled next time down the floor for a six-point lead with 2:09 to go.

“I think she’s gotten to a place where she’s confident what’s going on medically, but now the next step is to not think about it,” coach Cheryl Reeve said pregame. “This is one of those things that’s going to continue to bother her, much like Moriah, that you just have to keep working though it.”

Sylvia Fowles converted a feed from Jefferson before the latter iced the win with a long jumper. Fowles finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Kayla McBride led the Lynx with 18 points.

Minnesota shot 46.2 percent but missed too many shots in the paint and open jumpers.

Still, it’s a win.

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In her second game back after giving birth May 25, Napheesa Collier overcame early foul trouble, looked more comfortable in the offense and finished with 11 points.

Sophie Cunningham (24 points) and Shey Peddy (21) hurt the Lynx from deep, going a combined 11 of 20 on 3-point shots. Phoenix played without guards Diana Taurasi (quad) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons).

Minnesota, thanks to a 13-5 run to end the first half, led 42-40 at the break. It was down 60-59 going to the fourth quarter.

To make room for Powers’ return, the Lynx released forward Nikolina Milić from her hardship exception. The 6-3 rookie averaged six points and three rebounds in 31 games.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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