By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Targeted after winning their first title, the Minnesota Lynx knew they wouldn't be able to coast through the 2012 season.
After passing its first true test, Minnesota looks to keep rolling against the winless Seattle Storm on Sunday night in a matchup of the last two WNBA champions.
The Lynx (3-0) earned easy victories over Phoenix and New York to begin the season, then had to battle back from a nine-point deficit in the second half to beat Los Angeles 92-84 on Thursday.
Seimone Augustus scored 25 points and Rebekkah Brunson added 17 for Minnesota, which has won nine straight including the 2011 playoffs.
"That was our first test of the 2012 season, and we stuck with it," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "I thought for our first test this year, we did an admirable job."
The tough contest was welcomed by the Lynx after winning their first two games by a combined 40 points. Augustus, who scored a career-low 16.2 points per game last season, is averaging 22.0 points while shooting 61.7 percent.
Brunson is second on the Lynx with 14.3 points per game while averaging a team-high 8.0 rebounds.
"Having adversity early on in the season definitely is going to help us kind of fix the problems that we have and help us grow down the stretch," Brunson said.
Seattle (0-2) also is hoping for some improvement after opening with back-to-back losses to Los Angeles - 72-66 on May 18 and 74-61 on Tuesday.
Coach Brian Agler, who led the Storm to the 2010 WNBA championship, said the early struggles merely are a blip in a long season.
"I think every team goes through a learning process," Agler told the team's official website. "It's always been like this. It's not just because of our situation right now where we've lost our first two games. We always focus on the process moreso than the results, because we feel like if we go the right direction and improve as a team, that the results will then at some point take care of themselves."
Seattle, seeking a league-record ninth consecutive playoff appearance, is adjusting to many new faces on the roster - including Ann Wauters and Tina Thompson - and is missing star Lauren Jackson as she trains for the Olympics in Australia.
Wauters is averaging a team-best 16.0 points, with Thompson second at 12.5.
"This is basically a new group," Thompson said. "Even though there is a consistent core, this is a very new group where the people who are new need to make an instant and big impact. The attitude in our locker room is very positive because we see the progression."
Minnesota won three of four meetings in 2011 after Seattle took three of four in its last championship season. Augustus and Candice Wiggins scored 16 points each in the Lynx's 92-67 victory in the most recent meeting July 29.
Sue Bird was held to four points in that contest and is averaging 8.6 over the last three meetings while shooting only 31.0 percent.
Updated May 26, 2012