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Lindsay Whalen hits 6 FTs in final minute to help Lynx edge Silver Stars

MINNEAPOLIS -- In an almost must-win game, the Minnesota Lynx didn't wilt down the stretch.

Lindsay Whalen scored 21 points, including six free throws in the final minute, and the Lynx tightened the Western Conference playoff race with a 84-78 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars Sunday night.

The Lynx, Silver Stars and idle Los Angeles are tied for third place at 12-19 with three games to play. Only two will make the postseason.

Monica Wright had 20 and Seimone Augustus 17 for Minnesota, which won three of five against the Silver Stars this year. Head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker in playoff determination. Los Angeles holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Minnesota, and the Silver Stars hold the tiebreaker with the Sparks.

"I feel good about our chances, but I'm not going to guarantee anything," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve.

Minnesota, which has made the playoffs just twice in its 12 seasons as a franchise, finishes the season with games at Seattle, Los Angeles and Indiana. The Silver Stars finish with home games against Washington, Indiana and Phoenix. Los Angeles plays Phoenix and Minnesota at home and has a road game at Seattle.

"Anything can happen," Wright said.

"We still control our own destiny, but we are going to take it one game at a time," said San Antonio coach Sandy Brondello.

Becky Hammon led San Antonio with a season-high 30 points, including six 3-pointers. Sophia Young had 12 and Roneeka Hodges 10 for the Silver Stars, who lost starting forward Chamique Holdsclaw, the team's third-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game, midway through the second quarter with a sprained right ankle. She is to be re-evaluated in San Antonio.

The Lynx have taken leads into the fourth quarter in seven of their last nine home games, but are 3-6 in that span, including losing on a buzzer-beater Thursday against Los Angeles. Minnesota also blew an 11-point halftime lead -- scoring just six fourth-quarter points -- before losing Friday in Washington.

"We knew it would come down to the wire with everybody fighting for their playoff spots," said Whalen, who tied a season high with 12 assists. "Tonight, we hit the big shots and we made our free throws."

Its one-time 15-point lead reduced to one on a 3-point play by Young, Rebekkah Brunson scored four straight points for a 74-69 Minnesota lead with 1:35 to play. Wright blocked a 3-pointer by Hammon leading to a shot clock violation after Brunson's first basket.

"They made some tough shots down the stretch, and unfortunately we missed some," Hammon said. "That is the way it goes sometimes."

Edwige Lawson-Wade made two free throws for San Antonio, but Wright hit an off-balance jumper and Charde Houston scored a layup for a seven-point Lynx lead with 40 seconds to play.

"God only knows how that went in," Wright said.

Whalen made all six of her free throws to ice the game.

Hammon hit her sixth 3-pointer of the game to cut Minnesota's lead to 65-62 with 6:14 to play. Brunson made one of two free throws, but a 3-point play by Lawson-Wade made it a one-point game 2 minutes later.

San Antonio scored the game's first seven points, but the Lynx went on a 23-3 run over the first and second quarters, including 3-pointers by Wright and Augustus, for a 33-18 lead.

Two free throws by Hammon got San Antonio within 58-55 late in the third quarter.