On Thursday night two teams with legitimate championship aspirations faced each other for the first time in this young WNBA season. Much like the Lynx, the Liberty are an elite defensive team full of veterans, but Minnesota's depth and consistency separated them as they pulled away for a 90-71 in New York. The Lynx used a 17-2 run in the third quarter to build a lead they would not surrender the rest of the game.
Former Lynx Sugar Rodgers was hot in the first half, hitting four threes and scoring 19 points, but was held to one point in the second half. The Liberty only scored 30 points total in that second half as the Lynx defense has looked nearly flawless in the opening two games. Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson have defensive reputations that precede them, but both members of the bench front court, Plenette Pierson and Natasha Howard, were also fantastic guarding the paint and getting deflections.
While the Liberty only had two players (Rodgers and Brittany Boyd) who scored more than seven points, the Lynx were able to execute a balanced offensive game. Minnesota's starters all scored in double-digits and the bench added 28 points including five threes. This type of bench performance will be huge for the team this season as rest for Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Brunson becomes more important each year. A nine-man rotation is already forming, with four reserves who can stretch the floor to the three point line. At this point, the team's goal of getting up more shots from distance appears to be working, with 41 total three-point attempts over two games.
After an uneven, sloppy game to start the season, it was good to see the Lynx put together this type of game on the road against a high-level team like New York. Coach Reeve must be happy with how the defense has looked right out of the gate. She mentioned the idea of "non-negotiables" many times during pre-season, and it sure seems like defense is one of those things.
-Liberty guard Brittany Boyd suffered an achilles injury in the 4th quarter. It looked really bad, she was very upset. New York is deep enough to handle this, but a major injury to your starting PG in the second game of the season is never fun.
-Lynx first round draft pick Alexis Jones recorded her first WNBA basket in garbage time. Naturally, the shot from the rookie chosen for her ability to shoot from long range, was a three pointer.
-Maya Moore struggled to shoot the ball for the second straight game. Shavonte Zellous did a good job getting through screens and contesting her jump shot. Moore found other ways to contribute pulling down 11 boards and dropping six dimes.
The two game road trip wraps up in Dallas on Saturday. Excited to get a look at the Wings and the newly hyphenated Skyler Diggins-Smith.