Let's dispense with a typical wrap-up and head straight for the bullet points. Why? Because I'm still trying to recover from a DJ Mad Mardigan sighting. Seeing him spinning his wares on the video screen in the concourse during halftime was...well, soul shivering.
Onward and upward:
- Charde Houston is excitable. As anyone who has been to or watched a game on TV this year can attest to, her pre-game hand/foot shakes and dances are moderately intricate and clearly required some planning and practice. What you don't see is that the fan favorite also spends a great deal of time on the sideline jumping up and down, screaming and even rolling over a ball girl after a particularly exciting bucket by one of her teammates.
- The most valuable player on the Lynx tonight wasn't Maya Moore or Lindsay Whalen or Seimone Augustus. It was Taj McWilliams-Franklin, or Mama Taj. This is kind of a hard concept to relate to modern Wolves fans, but McWilliams-Franklin's defensive impact on the game was positively (and relatively) KG-esque. Whenever she was in the game, the lane was shut down and the Mystics could not execute their clear game plan: slow things down and dump it inside. When she went to the bench, the defense collapsed and things went to pot. Taj ended the 1st half with 5 steals, 4 boards and a big ol bunch of lane intimidation. She is the most active 40 something player I've seen and she is absolutely essential to this team's success in the playoffs. Rebekkah Brunson is a good player but she's not half the defender as McWilliams-Franklin.
- Speaking of defense and bigs. Does the same "it takes a few years to develop" law apply in the WNBA the same way it does in the NBA?
- #1 lesson of the night: If there is one thing that irrationally excites people more than free t-shirts, it is free kettle corn. Angie needs to rename that Apes$*t Corn, because that's what it causes people to do. One free bag of kettle corn hit the back of a poor woman's head and was scavenged by a guy who sprinted towards the downed bag and then made a gigantic fist-pump in victory. Hustle class.
- The start of the 4th quarter featured some genuinely pumped up emotion about the pending ass-kicking that the Lynx were about to deliver upon the Mystics. It came complete with Maya Moore screaming into the camera in a pre-taped bit reminiscent of Kevin Love asking everybody to howl. The place was buzzing and it will be really fun to see how loud the Target Center can get during the playoffs. Yes, playoffs. They exist in basketball.
- Speaking of noise, unfortunately the Lynx games are filled to the brim with the same ear splitting and pumped in noise that can be found at Wolves games. Why can't people just show up and cheer for the game? The Lynx are putting out a fantastic and exciting product and it doesn't need to be dressed up like a cheap and uninteresting one.
- Lindsay Whalen ended the game with 21 points on 10/12 shooting in 24 minutes. She was silly good tonight, slicing and dicing her way through the opposition and doing all the things that everybody wanted to see in, say, Jonny Flynn: creating contact, drawing the foul, making the tough shot, getting to the line, making the impossibly-angled pass...you get the picture.
- Jim-Pete is a tall dude but he looks even taller on a court filled with WNBA players.
- It really is striking to see just how many Lynx shirts and jerseys are in the crowd compared to 3-4 years ago.
- The big difference between Wolves games and Lynx games: the number of obscenely drunk people in attendance. Also, the win-loss record, but more so the obscenely drunk people.
Well folks, that about does it. The Mystics gave the Lynx a tougher than expected game tonight. The Lynx pulled out quickly but let Washington get back into things when McWilliams-Franklin headed to the bench. This pattern continued until the Lynx pulled away in the 4th with some big help from their bench. Whalen was lights out and McWilliams-Franklin anchored the defense.
One final thing, thanks to the Nicky Anosike trade, the Lynx own the Mystics 1st rounder next year and...well, the rich get richer, I suppose.