- Michelle Smith, Contributor, espnW.com
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As the WNBA season closes its first month, the Western Conference seems to be settling into a clear pecking order with division leader Minnesota and second-place Phoenix proving that they have the depth of talent to play well consistently.
At 8-1, the Lynx remain the clear No. 1 in the WNBA, holding a two-game lead over the Mercury. In the East, Chicago (5-3) slipped into a tie for first place after a pair of back-to-back losses, including a 38-point defeat at the hands of Atlanta, which joined the Sky at the top of the East standings. The rest of the East remains a jumble of teams capable of winning one game and losing another.
The Week 4 power rankings:
1. Minnesota (8-1; last week: No. 1)
A first loss in Seattle after seven straight wins doesn't cost the Lynx their top spot. Maya Moore has cooled -- she would almost have to -- and Minnesota faces a tough stretch next week with games against Atlanta, Phoenix and Los Angeles. But the best offensive team in the league stays at No. 1.
2. Phoenix (5-2; No. 3)
The Mercury's double-overtime win on Saturday showed grit and guts and reminded the league that Candice Dupree might be the best "4" player in the league. Phoenix leads the league in field goal percentage, shooting 48.7 percent from the floor.
3. Atlanta (5-3; No. 7)
The Dream leapfrogged into a tie for first in the East with the Sky thanks to a win over Los Angeles and a dominating win over Chicago on Saturday. Atlanta is looking very dangerous inside with the play of Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle, who are complementing Angel McCoughtry.
4. Chicago (5-3; No. 2)
The Sky suffered back-to-back losses this week, including Saturday's ugly 38-point loss to Atlanta. Still, the schedule -- Chicago opened the season with eight of 10 at home -- continues to favor the Sky.
5. Los Angeles (3-4; No. 5)
The Sparks are still waiting to find a groove. They have played at home only twice in their first six games, Candace Parker's ankle injury is a concern and something is just missing early for a team that came into the season with the expectations of a title contender.
6. Washington (4-3; No. 4)
The most promising parts of the Mystics' start are that they are 2-0 on the road so far and holding opponents to a league-low 71.4 points a game.
7. Indiana (4-4; No. 6)
The Fever won four in a row before falling to Connecticut over the weekend. Indiana is finding a way to win without Tamika Catchings, whose return from a back injury still isn't clear.
8. San Antonio (4-5; No. 8)
The Stars play four of their next six games at home and have to hope the home court helps them shoot better than they did Saturday night against Phoenix, when they missed 65 of 90 shots from the floor.
9. Seattle (3-6; No. 11)
The Storm are only halfway through their opening stretch of 10 of 13 games on the road; they are 1-5 away from home. But beating Minnesota in a rare game at KeyArena was the biggest win of the season so far. Still, the Storm rank last in the league in scoring and have to defend their way to victory right now.
10. Connecticut (3-6; No. 9)
The Sun are finding ways to win at home -- including Saturday's victory over a streaking Indiana team -- but are still 0-4 on the road. So it's a good thing the Sun will play four of their next five at Mohegan Sun.
11. New York (2-5; No. 10)
The Liberty, who got a win on Sunday against Washington to snap a three-game losing streak, are in need of some offensive punch. New York is averaging 70.4 points a game, second to last in the league behind Seattle.
12. Tulsa (1-5; No. 12)
The Shock had been so close -- four losses by four points or fewer -- and they finally broke through with an impressive win over Phoenix. Rookie Odyssey Sims had 21 points in the victory.
Minnesota suffered its first loss of the season but remains the clear No. 1 in the league.