Seattle was in town tonight coming off a big win against the league leading L.A. Sparks. The Lynx, coming off a loss to the Sun on Friday, were being a bit showy. They had a brand-spankin’ new scoreboard to unveil. It’s absolutely massive, so big that they needed to put screens on the inside so us press folk and people who have great seats can see replays too.
The new scoreboard is better than expected. pic.twitter.com/Gk4s94EJFv— Tony Porter (@LynxPorter) August 28, 2016
Wolves fans will have to wait but they should know they are in for a treat with this upgrade. Fortunately for Lynx fans, Lindsay Whalen was not letting the team lose tonight. She must really like the new scoreboard as she scored a season-high 24 points, leading the team to victory, 92-80, after a less than stellar first half.
The game started and the Lynx players were on a mission: Operation Storm The Paint. Sylvia Fowles had six of the team’s first nine points and she didn’t miss. Lindsay Whalen hit a tough shot while getting fouled and finished the three-point play. Minnesota owned the pick and roll early, and finished the quarter with 12 points in the paint. The Storm needed to call a timeout, as they were held scoreless for the first 3:16 of the game. They settled down, however, and pulled the game back to within six on back-to-back threes after the Lynx had a 21-9 lead. The Minnesota bench was called on early and eventually the quarter ended with Lynx up 26-21.
Towards the end of the first and throughout the second, the Storm had figured out the Lynx pick and roll game. They were trapping and switching at every opportunity causing a rash of turnovers, six to be exact after only one in the first. Minnesota really didn’t adapt. It’s happened several times this year where a team will figure out our game plan and do a good job of preventing what we want to do, which in turn causes the Lynx to just be patient, too patient. They wait and wait, letting the shot clock wind down, and before you know it, they have no time to get off a legitimate play. Whalen and Seimone Augustus carried the scoring load in the second quarter with 11 of the team’s 15 points. They went into the half down 47-41 after a scary play where Breanna Stewart bulldozed Janel McCarville on her way to the basket. She made both free throws and McCarville looked in pain heading to the bench.
After being dominated 26-15 in the second quarter, the Lynx came out hot in the second half. They tweaked their game plan a bit but not much, with a lot of off-ball movement that opened up the lane. They also made a point of getting out on transition quicker to cause issues for the Storm defense. Whalen repeatedly stared down the basket, and then proceeded to put her head down as she drove until she made a bucket, got a foul, or both. She was playing like a demon possessed. The fast transition also opened up some mid-range jumpers for Augustus and Moore. The starters scored 30 of 32 points in the third as they found their rhythm.
The fourth quarter was more scoring from the starters with a dash of Jia Perkins. She was actually the only bench player to score in the second half, scoring eight of her 10 points after the break. Natasha Howard may have only scored five points but she had nine rebounds and four assists. Once again, she was hustling and keeping the ball moving and she has been a great addition to the team this year.
But back to the real hero, Whalen willed this team when they were down and everyone fed off of her intensity. I think she screamed after every basket she made and there were nine of them. She scored eight of her points in the final quarter to seal the victory.
“She has that recognition, where the team just feeds off of her. She was awfully explosive getting to the basket,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game.
Rebekkah Brunson grabbed three offensive boards (10 total) and is now the all-time leader in that category in the history of the league. “It’s a huge part of her identity. She’ll tell you offensive rebounding is a ‘want-to’ and if you’re around Brunson you know the size of her ‘want-to’,” Reeve said about the Lynx forward. This was her 110th career game with double-digit rebounds.
Maya Moore wasn’t her typical self but she played fine. She had 13 points on 50 percent shooting, five rebounds and three assists. Multiple times she came over to help on defense causing missed shots, which led to transition points for her teammates. Augustus was the Robin to Whalen’s Batman. She had 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. She hit timely shots while the Lynx were crawling back in this game.
Next up, the Lynx take on the Washington Mystics at home on Friday.
Here’s another shot of the new scoreboard: