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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Lynx lose Game 1 of conference finals

PHOENIX ( - Brittney Griner had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Phoenix Mercury defeated the Minnesota Lynx 85-71 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.

Penny Taylor posted 16 points, 13 boards and seven assists, while Diana Taurasi added 17 points, six rebounds and five helpers for the Mercury, who won three of four meetings against the Lynx during the regular season. Phoenix swept Los Angeles in the conference semifinals. Lindsay Whalen tallied 25 points, but WNBA MVP Maya Moore was limited to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting for defending-champion Minnesota, which swept San Antonio in two games in the conference semis. 

The Mercury opened up a 42-31 lead at halftime and blew the game open in the third following a 14-0 run.Taylor netted six points during the burst, which was capped by Taurasi's jumper to give Phoenix a 63-39 cushion. The Mercury led by as many as 25 in the frame before settling for a 67-47 advantage heading into the fourth, where they cruised to the easy win. Game 2 is Sunday in Minneapolis.


Chris Davis hit a grand slam, Delmon Young added a two-run homer and the Baltimore Orioles coasted to a 9-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night to open a four-game series.

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (7-7) got the win after holding the Twins to four hits and a run in seven innings. The AL East-leading Orioles entered play after winning three of four against division foe Tampa Bay to open an 11-game homestand, but had one piece of bad news. Red-hot first baseman Steve Pearce left the game after three innings with what the team said was a right abdominal strain. Pearce entered the game on a tear with five home runs and a .333 average since Aug. 17. Trevor Plouffe hit a solo homer for the Twins, who have lost five of six. Twins righty Trevor May (0-4) remained winless in his first four major-league starts after giving up eight runs in just 4 2/3 innings.


Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson has been suspended for the first three games of the 2014 season for again violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Simpson will be eligible to return following the team's Week 3 contest against New Orleans. It will be Simpson's second suspension in the past three years. He was also banned for three games in 2012, his first year with the Vikings, following a guilty plea to a felony drug charge. In September 2011, when Simpson played for Cincinnati, police confiscated a package containing 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana that was being shipped from California to Simpson's Kentucky home. The latest suspension stems from a DWI arrest last November. Simpson had 48 catches for a career-high 726 yards and one touchdown in 16 games, including eight starts, last season. He has 145 receptions for 2,004 yards and eight scores in six seasons with Cincinnati and Minnesota.