Minnesota faced and defeated Atlanta for the third time in 12 days on Tuesday. The Lynx returned to their winning ways with a 81-72 at victory McCamish Pavilion after losing their previous game to the Indiana Fever.
That losing effort against the Fever featured Fowles’ worst game of the season. She scored 6 points, had 8 rebounds, and played a season low 20 minutes. Everything was different in Atlanta Tuesday night, especially in the first half where Fowles scored 21 of her game high 27 points. She also added 13 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, and was fantastically efficient shooting the ball going 7-8 from the field and 13-16 from the free throw line. She looked like the surefire MVP Lynx fans have watched all season, sealing her defender impossibly deep in the restricted area as well as locking down the paint on the defensive end. The Dream were able to hold her scoreless in the third quarter as their shifty zone defense proved to be effective yet again vs the Lynx.
Minnesota also benefited from a much better game from Renee Montgomery. She looked much more comfortable and confident in her second game stepping into the starting lineup for Lindsay Whalen. Not only was she a threat from outside hitting all three of her three point attempts, but she also did a better job getting into the paint for layups or dump offs to her front court teammates.
Despite head coach Cheryl Reeve stating “I don’t need Renee Montgomery to try to be Lindsay Whalen” last week, Montgomery still can improve her ability to run the offense with her fellow starters. Whalen is such a cerebral player. She understands when to be look for her own shot and when to fall back and play a supporting role on offense. I expect Montgomery to improve in this area with every game that features her in the starting lineup.
The Lynx league-best defense was out in full effect throughout the game on Tuesday. The Dream were able to keep the game relatively close by making seven three pointers and out rebounding the Lynx, but stout team defense allowed Minnesota to remain in control all evening. As usual, Rebekkah Brunson was an absolute stud on that end of the court. Her ability to switch onto smaller defenders and not give up an advantage was huge for the Lynx. Especially in a surprisingly close fourth quarter that saw the Dream get within five points with three minutes remaining in the game. When Minnesota defends at that level, they’re nearly impossible to beat.
Lynx used sterling defense and exponentially better games from Fowles and Montgomery to beat the Dream Tuesday night and sweep the season series 3-0.
Over the course of the three game sweep of Atlanta, Fowles scored 81 points on 28-36 shooting. That’s dominance right there.
The Dream have now lost five in a row and at 10-16 look like they’re about to fall out of the playoff picture.
Atlanta is a tough basketball city. Only 4,006 people attended Tuesday’s game. The Dream were 11th out of 12 teams in attendance in 2016. The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks were 26th out of 30 teams in 2016/17 despite going 43-39 and being a playoff team.
The Los Angeles Sparks come to St. Paul to play their second of three games against Minnesota. The Lynx will also unveil their new logo at halftime. You should attend this game if possible. If not, you can watch from home on FSN.