The Minnesota Lynx bounced back from last Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Chicago with an 88-71 win in Phoenix Friday night.
After six days off, the same defense that let the Sky hang 100 points on them last week held the Phoenix Mercury to only 24 first half points. That’s the fewest points in a half vs Minnesota this season. Lynx defenders were everywhere, clogging passing lanes and containing penetration. Nothing was easy for the Mercury all night who were visibly frustrated. Minnesota simply took Phoenix out of their offense and never allowed them to get into any sort of rhythm. The only way the Mercury consistently scored the ball was at the charity stripe where they made as many free throws as field goals in the first half (8). The pressure was downright stifling as the Lynx turned 14 Mercury turnovers into 13 points.
A pair of Lynx wing players carried Minnesota offensively in this game. Seimone Augustus came out of the gates hot as she had 13 points on 6-9 shooting in the first half. She was able to take advantages of mismatches and get her midrange shot off from a number of locations on the court. It was a vintage Augustus night. This continues something of a renaissance year for Augustus who is shooting 53% from the field. That number is good for second in the league among all guards and is a career high for her.
Maya Moore picked up where Augustus left off in the second half scoring 11 of her 19 in the third quarter. Phoenix got much more out of their offense in the second half, but Moore’s long-range shooting kept the Lynx lead from ever dipping below 10 points. With Sylvia picking up her fourth personal foul at the 5 minute mark of the third quarter, Moore was able to carry the load for her team with their MVP on the bench. Maya’s final line: 19 PTS, 7-12 FG, 4-7 3FG, 7 AST, 5 REB.
Brittney Griner went down in the fourth quarter with an ugly leg injury due to a collision under the basket. She crumpled to a heap holding her left knee and stayed down for a few minutes. Griner was able to put weight on the foot as she was helped off the court by two Mercury staff, but it would appear as if Griner will miss at least a few games. Up until her injury she was playing well enough, scoring 15 points and grabbing 4 rebounds, but her touches were limited and she was defended well at the rim. If she does miss extended time, it would put an end to what was shaping up to be an exciting MVP race between her and Lynx center Sylvia Fowles.
Diana Taurasi had a frustrating evening. She shot 5-17 from the field and went the entire game without making a three point shot for the first time this season. She spent the night arguing with the officials and even picked up a technical in the fourth quarter.
This game was the first Lynx game broadcast on Twitter this season. It’s part of a new three-year deal with twitter in which 20 games per season will be live streamed and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
UPDATE: Griner suffered both a left knee bone bruise and a right ankle sprain, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. A big disappointment for her and the Mercury, but hopefully she is back at full strength later this summer.
Phoenix again! These teams run it back on Sunday. It should be a good game despite the likely absence of Griner. Phoenix seemed to figure some things out in the second half and will make other adjustments to find cracks in Minnesota’s defense.