Fresh off a home win against against the world champion Los Angeles Sparks, the Lynx turned in their most disappointing performance of the season in Chicago. The term “trap game” was on the minds of Lynx faithful, as fans sensed a letdown on the heels of Thursday’s juggernaut matchup. Simply losing this game would a surprising enough result, but the manner in which they lost was downright shocking.
Right from the start, this game reeked of defensive indifference as the Lynx allowed the Sky to make their first 11 shots. Chicago players found themselves with clean looks at the rim and open lanes through the paint as they shot 76% in the first quarter. Defense has been the backbone of Minnesota’s dominance over the last few seasons, and the intensity and help rotations simply weren’t there. Letting Chicago have their highest scoring quarter of the season (31 pts) empowered them to beat Minnesota for their first home win this season.
The Lynx just aren’t very good at taking care of the ball. They’re 8th in turnovers in a 12 team league. It’s been an issue all season that they can typically overcome with their defense and overall talent advantages. This was not the case in Chicago as the Sky scored 22 points off Minnesota’s 20 turnovers. These live-ball turnovers fueled Chicago’s 19-4 fast break advantage. The Sky lead the WNBA in pace this season and it was critical in Minnesota’s undoing. Somehow, Chicago was able to run off Minnesota makes or misses. Transition defense will be a point of emphasis for Cheryl Reeve in practice this week.
Veteran Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot had the game of her life. She scored a career high 26 points on 11-16 shooting and had 13 assists to go with seven rebounds. She simply could not miss and hit big shot after big shot all night. This could be a case of a player simply catching fire, but Minnesota failed to make adjustments to contain her or take the ball out of her hands.
Even elite teams experience bumps along the road to a championship. With only two losses in 15 games, the Minnesota Lynx are going to be fine. However, this loss highlights a few weakness that other opponents can use against them, potentially in a playoff series. Their typical dominance and sustained excellence leave us flabbergasted when we see them lose. The Lynx can be beaten, sometimes by the most unexpected opponents.
Kudos to the Sky. Last Saturday they hit rock bottom by losing to the then-winless San Antonio Stars. This week they bounced back by getting their first home win of the season against the best team in the league.
Brunson was the lone bright spot for Minnesota offensively. After shooting 2-11 vs LA on Thursday, Rebekkah had a season high 22 points and hit four threes.
Sylvia Fowles was relatively ineffective for the first time this season. She had 13 pts and 6 reb, but all of her rebounds were offensive boards. I don’t think you’ll see her get shut out on the defensive glass the rest of the year. Chicago used an occasional 2-3 zone very effectively against her to deny post touches and keep her off the glass.
Maya Moore only shot the ball three times and didn’t make a single shot from the field and had zero rebounds. I have no idea how that happened. Odd night for Maya.
This was the first game a team has scored 100 points on Minnesota in regulation since August 17th 2011. (Thanks to John Focke and #SwannyStats for that one).
The Lynx have all week to think about this one. They don’t play again until they face the Mercury in Phoenix on Friday night.