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Minnesota Lynx Unable to Stop Tulsa's Win Streak, Fall 86-78 to Shock

Lindsay Whalen finished the game without a single assist, and the Lynx offered a lackluster defensive effort against the Western Conference leader.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota boasted an entirely healthy lineup for the first time this season, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to end Tulsa's win-streak and the Shock came out on top of the 78-86 final score. Rebekkah Brunson led the way for the Lynx with 18 points, followed by Maya Moore with 16.

Heading into tonight's game, most expected a close contest. Minnesota and Tulsa stand out as co-leaders for the Western Conference, entering Sunday tied for No. 1. The Shock came in off a five-game win streak after losing their opener to none other than the Lynx.

Minnesota worked to end that charge, but unfortunately the home squad didn't have enough steam to wrap things up.

The Lynx played a lackluster defense that fans are not accustomed to, and head coach Cheryl Reeve made her feelings clear following the game.

"They did whatever they wanted to do whenever  they wanted to do it, and it was the defensive effort I wasn't happy with," Reeve said. She added, "They drive the paint; they scored [46] points in the paint. That's something we're accustomed to protecting [...] they penetrate to the paint, and we didn't provide much resistance to that area."

Moore said the following after the loss:

"[Tulsa's] guards are very aggressive. They change direction; they hesitate; they have great skills at getting to the rim [...] if we want to be able to get out and go, we have to be able to crowd the paint and make them do something that they don't want to do."

The Lynx started off with a  8-0 run against Tulsa, and the team initially looked unstoppable. Every bucket seemed to fall, and they wracked up a 13-5 lead early on.

The Shock battled back, however, their tenacity slowing the early Lynx momentum--the Western Conference leaders entered the locker room for halftime tied at 38 apiece.

Minnesota struggled to restrict the Shock's rebounding efforts. Tulsa won the boards, finishing with 36 rebounds compared to Minny's 31. Tulsa center Courtney Paris grabbed 11 of those rebounds on her own. Paris also tallied 16 points on the evening.

The second half proved proved entirely different than the first for Minnesota, as Tulsa's Skylar Diggins hit her groove offensively, tallying an impressive 26 points on the evening. The Lynx seemed disjointed, struggling to hit shots or fend off Paris and Diggins beneath the basket.

"We had a pretty strong start," said Lindsay Whalen, "but the lane was open for them and they took advantage."

Whalen seemed especially off her game tonight. The veteran was the last out of the locker room before the game, and she just did not control the ball like usual. The Star Tribune's Kent Youngblood pointed out via Twitter that the Lynx cannot capitalize if Whalen isn't dishing out assists, and that certainly rang true Sunday. In an incredibly rare situation, Whalen played all four quarters without notching a single assist.

In her postgame presser, though, Reeve said that Whalen's efforts were not the issue. "Whalen played well," she said. "That was the least of my concerns."

After all was said and done, Minnesota's struggles on defense sealed the loss for them. Even when they made a run at a comeback toward the end of the fourth, Tulsa's Riquna Williams sank an uncontested shot from downtown.

"She hit a three with our hands down," Reeve said. "It's baffling to me."

The Lynx will look to rebound when they go back on the road to play Seattle Thursday evening. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST.

Game Notes

  • Maya Moore finished the first half 5/5 from the free-throw line.
  • Asjha Jones committed  turnovers on the evening.
  • Lindsay Whalen finished the game with zero assists.
  • Tulsa scored five of their seven three-point baskets in the second half.
  • Monica Wright made her 2015 home debut after struggling with injuries. Wright played six minutes and was 0-for-3 from the field.
  • The Lynx shot only 20 percent from the three-point line.

Sideline Story

Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio was in the house tonight, entering shortly into the first quarter and sitting courtside. Rubio received a warm recognition from fans when he found his way onto the JumboTron in the second half.