The Minnesota Lynx were on the winning end of the biggest blowout in WNBA history Friday night at Xcel Energy Center. The 59 point, 111-52 Minnesota victory topped the previous high win margin by 13 points (Seattle over Tulsa 111-65 in 2010). A litany of league and franchise record were shattered in this game, but most importantly, the Lynx got back on track.
Prior to this game, the Lynx were 1-3 since Renee Montgomery stepped into the role of starting point guard, filling in for the injured Lindsay Whalen. Cheryl Reeve explained the toll it was taking on Montgomery.
“Renee was feeling it the most. She was really taking on, personally, some of our struggles.”
“I take it in. I take losses hard. I’m rewatching the games, analyzing what I should have done. When you’re the point guard, we control a lot of the game, we’re making the calls, making a lot of the decisions. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I need to make sure this machine is running at an optimum level.”
The shorthanded Lynx certainly looked like a machine on Friday night. Facing a lottery-bound Indiana Fever team that upset the Lynx less than two weeks ago, Minnesota was eager to avenge the loss. The Lynx were out to make a statement and did so early in this game, tying a franchise record for points in a single quarter with 37. Reeve credited her team’s defense for kickstarting the landslide victory.
“We defended. We defended really hard. We just lost to this team not too long ago. We made a couple subtle changes to get us a little more aggressive. (Indiana) didn’t make shots. I don’t think anything came easy for them. Anytime you’re playing off of rebounding and you get your break going, you’re going to get higher percentage shots.”
After back to back games that featured their lowest point totals of the season, Minnesota’s offense returned to its fluid, highly efficient state. Fueled by rebounds and Fever turnovers, the Lynx were able to get into their sets earlier and in more ideal locations than we’ve seen recently. Montgomery hit three three pointers which opened everything up inside for Sylvia Fowles. It was a welcome sight for Lynx fans anxious about the ability of the team’s depth to step in for their injured starters. After the game, Fowles seemed proud of her teammate Montgomery.
“We put her out there to lead the team. She typically brings it off the bench. To throw her in the fire, to (fill in for) Whalen, when Whalen’s pretty much the quarterback of our team, that’s pretty hard to do. It took her a couple of games, but I think she’s got it.”
Typically, across all sports, when one team builds a large lead, you can almost always count on the opposition to go on a run and shrink that lead at some point. It’s natural for the team with the big lead to let off the gas a little bit and lose focus. This did not happen in Friday’s game. It was essentially over after the first quarter ended with Minnesota leading 37-9. Indiana Fever head coach Pokey Chatman commented on what she saw from the Lynx in the first quarter.
“They were able to do anything that they wanted to do after 90 seconds of playing. We knew coming in that they were coming off of some tough losses and that if they were at home, there would be some momentum. It would be to Sylvia early and she established that and quite honestly, we never, ever came close to recovering from it.”
The game transformed from a “normal” blowout to a historic one during a 13 minute stretch that spanned across the first and second quarters in which the Lynx outscored the Fever 37-0. That run was the most consecutive points in any game in WNBA history. Technically the second half took place, but it didn’t need to. The Lynx were up 45 at half, and pushed the lead to as much as 63 at one point. The numbers on the scoreboard looked absurd for most of the evening and the Indiana Fever simply did not look like they wanted to be in the building. I can’t say I blame them.
-Other records that were set on Friday night: Most points in a first half in franchise history (68) and most field goals made in any half in franchise history (27).
-The Lynx are down to 9 available players after Rebekkah Brunson’s ankle injury. Reeve said before the game that the team would wait to make a decision on signing another player. They’re hopeful that Brunson will be able to return sooner than her initial two week prognosis.
Minnesota travels to New York to face the Liberty. The game is on Sunday at 2pm. You can watch it on NBATV or WNBA League Pass.