Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore (23) grabs a rebound in the third quarter against the Atlanta Dream in game one of the WNBA Finals at Target Center. The Lynx defeated the Dream 84-59. (Photo: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)
The Minnesota Lynx don't want the Atlanta Dream to think they have any shot at winning the WNBA title.
Minnesota took a 19-point halftime lead and expanded it to 31 before rolling past the Dream 84-59 on Sunday night in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
"We don't want to ever relax," Maya Moore, who led the Lynx with 23 points, said. "The work that we do in the first half, we want to make sure that that means something. In order to protect what we just did, we have to go out and play as well or better in the second to build momentum. This is a long series. Every second that we give them life is a memory that they take into Game 2."
Wright, a reserve who averaged nine points in the regular season, scored 20 in 24 minutes on Sunday.
"She's in trouble," Moore joked. "Acting up. She was amazing. On our team, we have a fine system. If you do something outrageous, you get fined. You're fined for that game."
Wright said nothing specifically triggered the outburst.
"My teammates have all the confidence in the world in me, and it was just falling tonight," Wright said.
Seimone Augustus added 19 points to give the Lynx the advantage in the best-of-five series.
Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 17 points, but she made just six of 24 shots. She didn't seem too worried about it after the game.
"Just need to get in the gym," she said. "It happens, everybody has cold days. This was a cold day today. We will get in the gym and get some shots up and we'll shoot better on Tuesday."
Aneika Henry added 14 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta.
The Lynx shot 49 percent from the field and outrebounded the Dream 44-35.
The Dream shot 31 percent from the field and missed all 15 of their 3-point tries. Atlanta coach Fred Williams said his team doesn't need to take so many long shots.
"Tonight, they enticed us to get out there," he said. "Some of those were when they were up on us, and trying to get 3 pointers outside by McCoughtry and a couple of other players. But that is definitely going to cut in half next time we play."
Game 2 will be played Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Minnesota led 29-23 in the second quarter before going on a 15-0 run. Atlanta didn't score for more than five minutes during that stretch.
McCoughtry, the league's leading scorer in the regular season, picked up her third foul on a charge with 3:27 left in the first half.
Minnesota shot 54 percent in the first half to take a 44-25 lead at the half. Moore scored 13 points and Augustus and Wright added 10 before the break.
Atlanta made a run early in the third quarter. Powered by a pair of baskets by McCoughtry, the Dream cut Minnesota's lead to 48-34.
The Lynx quickly responded with a 6-2 run, with all three baskets coming from Moore, to give Minnesota a 54-36 lead.
Minnesota center Janel McCarville made a 3-pointer to push Minnesota's lead to 60-41 with about a minute left in the third quarter. Wright's 3-point play with 21 seconds left in the third quarter bumped the lead to more than 20 points for the first time. Augustus closed the third quarter with a 3-pointer to give the Lynx a 68-43 lead at the end of the period.
Atlanta vowed to be better on Tuesday.
"The mood in the locker room? We are not going to be down, what's the point?" McCoughtry said. "It's over. We're moving on. We're going to keep our heads up and we are going to continue to believe and we have confidence in ourselves. We believe we can win a series."
NOTES: The Lynx are making their third straight Finals appearance. Minnesota swept Atlanta two years ago and lost to the Indiana Fever 3-1 last year. ... Atlanta was making its third Finals appearance. The Dream also lost to the Seattle Storm in 2010. ... Moore was second in the WNBA's MVP balloting this season. McCoughtry was fifth. ... McCoughtry and Armintie Harrington were on the league's all-defense team.