The Lynx were down seven to the Chicago Sky heading into the final frame. The Target Center was tense. The home team was coming off a quarter where they had seven turnovers and shot 33.3 percent from the field. They scored only nine points. Facing the reigning MVP in Elena Delle Donne was proving difficult. She had 30 points, going 10-13 from the field five of those from deep, in just three quarters of play.
Have no fear, as Maya Moore is here. She pulled the Lynx within one after a smooth mid-range jumper early in the 4th. Later, she got an offensive rebound on a Janel McCarville miss and drained a fade away to take the lead with 6:15 remaining in the game. The Lynx never looked back. Moore hit a three-pointer with 55.7 seconds left to extend the lead to five. That capped a 13 point quarter for the Lynx star. Finally, Rebekkah Brunson matched up with Delle Donne on the last possession, stole the ball, and motored down the court for a layup, sealing the victory at 87-82.
"Anything you're doing, if you don't do it with a great deal of energy and passion, you're probably not going to win," Cheryl Reeve said before the game. This game didn't lack either of those. It was a showcase of pure talent on both sides. A back and forth game that featured 18 lead changes and 10 ties. No matter what either team did defensively, neither could stop the opponent's MVP. Moore had 33 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Delle Donne had 38 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
It was a physical game as both teams tried to disrupt each other's flow. The Sky hit 13 of 14 free throws in the first quarter alone, as they took a six point lead. The Lynx stormed back in the second behind Seimone Augustus, who scored 10 points in the quarter.
After a game where the bench scored 44 points, the second unit only chipped in six in this one. It was the four Olympians that carried the scoring load for the team. Sylvia Fowles had 15 points and six rebounds. Augustus finished with 16 points. Lindsay Whalen had 11 points and four assists. I mentioned what Maya did, spectacular of course.
Though, there was a player from the bench that stood out. It was Janel McCarville, who played 19 important minutes in this one. "Jim [Peterson] taught me to understand the plus/minus and to not score doesn't bother me at all. I will gladly not score as long as we get a win every day of the week and twice on Sunday," McCarville quipped after the game.
She may not have scored but she contributed in every other facet. The backup center led the team in plus/minus at +16 and assists with six. Defensively she had two steals, a block and three rebounds. "McCarville was outstanding. Her defensive effort doesn't show up in a box score, her ability to roam and help," Reeve said of the backup center. She brings an energy to the Lynx that isn't always intangible, but is vital. In the second quarter, she had back-to-back no look passes for assists that brought the bench and the crowd to their feet. She hasn't played a ton this year but when she gets meaningful minutes, she can really impact the game with her play.
The starters played significant minutes tonight, and it will be interesting to see if Reeve dials that down as we get closer to the Olympic break. I don't imagine her compromising the team's season in any way but it will be something to keep an eye on. Next up, the Lynx travel to Connecticut to take on the Sun on Thursday.
Here's that defense by Brunson to finish off the game: