Two games into the new season and the Lynx showed again they don't care about a superstar player's debut.
For the second game in a row, Minnesota won in convincing fashion over a team that returned their best weapon. First, it was a convincing win over the Phoenix Mercury in Diana Taurasi's return to the WNBA after a year overseas.
In today's game, Elena Delle Donne returned for the Chicago Sky after missing her first game of the season due to a stomach virus. She ended with a game-high 28 points, though it was not enough as the Lynx went on to win their second game in as many tries, 97-80.
That was, in part, due to a particular Lynx player making a return of her own. Sylvia Fowles played against her former franchise for the first time since being traded from the Sky last year in a pivotal move that spurred Minnesota's championship run. It looked like Fowles wanted to remind Chicago what they lost.
The Lynx center had 24 points on 10-13 shooting and added 13 rebounds in a dominating performance which Chicago simply had no answer for. Fowles followed up her 17 point, 14 rebound game one with another impressive performance, where she not only had complete control in the paint but got out on the fast break as well. The Lynx had 13 points in transition in the first quarter alone with Fowles contributing to that with lay-ups off turnovers and outlet passes after hitting the defensive glass. She was fantastic throughout the game.
Overall, the Lynx seemed well-prepared for the Sky. The pick-and-roll game was obviously something that head coach Cheryl Reeve stressed before this game, specifically at the top of the key. Players were popping after setting the pick, or delaying their roll which caused spacing issues for Chicago's defense. When you combine that level of preparation with elite talent, the result is the second blowout of the year and 2-0 in the standings.
Minnesota also maintained the same high-energy defense they flashed in the first game. Renee Montgomery was stellar again with five more steals (10 total for the season) and 15 of the bench's 36 points. She has to be considered one of the top bench players in the league right now and could probably be a starter on at least a few of them. Check out this play where her steal led to the assist of the season (calling it now) from Janel McCarville:
The Sky were able to exploit mismatches on offense from time to time, but that will happen when playing against the versatile Delle Donne. When the game was still close, the reigning MVP found Jia Perkins defending her in the post multiple times and she took advantage of the mismatch. Ultimately, it didn't matter what the Sky superstar did on offense in this contest. The Lynx could not be stopped. The team continued their great ball-movement with 27 assists on 36 made field goals.
Maya Moore had 22 points on 12 field goal attempts to go with six assists, despite resting a majority of the third quarter. Natasha Howard played a great all-around game off the bench with no turnovers, but put up a stat in every other category. The bench was a combined +49, vindicating the moves made by the front office in the offseason to improve this team's depth. Last year, the highest point total the team had was 94. The Lynx have already scored 95 and 97 points in their two games this year.
Here's to breaking 100 next game when the Lynx take on the number one pick in Breanna Stewart and her Seattle Storm.