The Lynx wanted to rewrite the record books last night. They were going for 11-0, the best start to a season ever, and were looking to pass another great team in history, the 2012 Minnesota Lynx.
The Indiana Fever were on tap and the two teams played earlier this year at Target Center. In that game, the Lynx had an unbelievable first half, followed by an unbelievable second half for the wrong reasons. They had a 23 point lead at the break, which head coach Cheryl Reeve used as an opportunity to get some valuable playing time for the bench players. Minnesota ended up winning by only three as the second unit struggled mightily.
This game wasn't much different in the first half. The Lynx we're up 49-31 at the break and were shooting a cool 59.4 percent from the field. The Fever, on the other hand, we're shooting 30.6 percent and struggled to stop just about every player on the Lynx.
The difference this game was the second half. They continued their onslaught early in the third by starting with a 13-4 run. At one point the Lynx had a 28 point lead and eventually the bench came in to finish out the game to win 87-63.
They did it. 11-0. A new record, though the LA Sparks are on their heels at 10-0 and have been the only team better than the Lynx in points allowed per game. The WNBA schedule maker has hit gold this year. The two teams play a home and away, back-to-back, in less than a week. I know it's just the regular season but if both stay undefeated until then, the hype around those games will reach critical mass. It would be a great story for the WNBA's 20th year in existence.
Last night's game had that buzz and the fans were a raucous bunch. They were definitely grateful for the performance the Lynx put on.
The team was setting off-ball screens and getting great ball movement from it. They also attacked the basket whenever they had a step. Each strategy resulted in buckets or great passes for other buckets. Three minutes into the second quarter and late in the shot clock, Maya Moore threw a great jump-pass to Sylvia Fowles who had a great pirouette to split two defenders and score the easy basket. Two Lynx possessions later and Lindsay Whalen rocketed a pass to Moore cutting to the basket who made the shot while getting fouled. Here's that play:
The Lynx were dominant all game and it was refreshing to watch. For a team that has been so good, they have had some Jekyll and Hyde like games this year. "Recently, we had games where we had one good quarter, I think they really wanted to string it together and be good throughout the game," Reeve said in the post-game press conference. That's exactly how the first game between these two teams went. Minnesota only won the first quarter, barely hanging on to victory in the end. In this one they won the first three and tied the last frame. There was no question who was going to win this game early in the second half.
Moore ended the game with 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. She was the best player out there but everyone contributed. Seimone Augustus has 12 points, five rebounds and five assists. Fowles with 11 points and eight boards. Rebekkah Brunson and Jia Perkins rounded out the double digit scorers at 10 and 11 points, respectively. The bench ended with 34 points and the team had 21 assists on 32 field goals.
All around, the team has been so impressive this year. ""We just had an outstanding practice yesterday. Really focused and a real hunger for what we were talking about, some of our shortcomings. We just had this mindset of wanting to do better," Reeve said. To hear that has to be disconcerting to other teams. An undefeated team wanting to do better. One with four Olympians and three of the last five league championships.
Still, every team will want to be the one to get that first win versus an unbeaten team. The Lynx will get the best games from everyone but they truly are the class of the WNBA right now. They're in Seattle to play the Storm on Sunday, looking to continue the streak and set a new record.
Tony's Two Cents:
The Lynx haven't yet lost a game, as I mentioned earlier, and it makes you think: what's different this year? Sure, the team has been good for a while but what's making them so good they are already setting records? It could be that they have had Fowles all year. It could be that they have good health, four Olympians, and a strong bench. It could be just Maya Moore. Or, it could be they are just trying to help out a rookie reporter. It's a bit easier to write about wins all the time. Tell me what you guys think the keys to success have been this year.
Also, here's that pirouette from Fowles: