Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx have picked up where they left off last season, breezing through their WNBA slate so far.
The Lynx have won their first seven games after sweeping through the playoffs last year en route to their second title in three seasons.
Moore has been a huge reason why. The fourth-year pro is averaging 27.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting over 50 percent from the field and nearly 90 percent from the free throw line.
''I'm just trying to be aggressive,'' said Moore, who was the Finals MVP last year. ''My teammates - especially the post players - have been doing a good job of getting me screens early on in transition in the offense and the ball's been feeling good.''
Moore has had to raise her game with the Lynx going through serious injury problems before the season started. Rebekkah Brunson is out for a few months with a right knee injury. Devereaux Peters is just returning from a torn meniscus and Monica Wright also had knee surgery and is sidelined indefinitely.
''She looked around and said, `This team needs me,''' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ''All of a sudden we have key players with some injuries and she needed to step up. And I think that she's taken it upon herself and she's feeling really good. She's prepared herself really well.''
The strong start is no surprise for Moore, who is coming off another championship season with her team in China. She averaged 43 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.8 steals and 4.3 assists in the finals of that league.
Moore set a WNBA record by scoring 30 or more points in each of her first four games. She could have done it in a fifth straight, but took to heart the challenge of guarding Chicago star Elena Delle Donne in a showdown of unbeaten teams last month. So Moore sacrificed her offense and held Delle Donne to 16 points in a 3-point victory.
''Maya, that was the best defensive game of her Lynx career,'' Reeve said. ''That's the difference. She's so much more mature. I don't know if I'd have thought of doing that even a year ago. I would have considered that a bad matchup for us. But Maya is really responding to the challenges and adding different things to her game, and becoming a great defensive player was high on her list.''
After scoring only 14 points in the win over Chicago, Moore was back to her high-scoring ways. On Friday night, she honored her namesake, Maya Angelou - who died on Wednesday - writing the author and poet's name on her shoes. Moore then went out and had 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists in an easy victory over San Antonio.
She followed that up by playing all 40 minutes in the second game of a home-and-home series with the Stars. The Lynx won 87-79 to begin a stretch of six road games in their next seven contests. The lone home game is against rival Phoenix.
Minnesota went 10-0 to start the 2012 season and could match that mark on this road trip. The Lynx hope for a better ending than that season, when they lost in the Finals to Indiana. It's one of the rare times when Moore hasn't won a title.
In her career she's won three high school championships, two college titles, two WNBA titles, two titles in China, and an Olympic gold medal. She hopes to add to that total this year.
AP Freelancer Jack McCarthy in Chicago contributed to this report.
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