On July 8th the Lynx suffered their second loss of the season. It was a downright embarrassing 100-76 drubbing at the hands of a then 3-12 Sky team beating a 13-1 Lynx squad that mailed in their worst defensive game of the season. Two days later, back at Mayo Clinic Center, Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve was still upset about the loss.
“The (trash) they were talking, they felt like they could get any shot they wanted against the Minnesota Lynx. We take offense to that. We’ve got the (next) Chicago game circled and we’ll be ready next time.”
Reeve and her team were true to their vow and played like a team with the memories of that July day still in their heads. Reeve confirmed after the game that redemption was the goal.
“We kinda returned the favor (for) what Chicago did to us in Chicago. There were some things in the commentary for Chicago’s on air talent that were said that have stuck in my craw since that day. So we returned the favor and dropped 110 on their heads and we did a lot of it off of our defense and running the ball down their throats which was nice.”
Not only did the Lynx defeat the Sky on Friday night, they did it in historic fashion. Minnesota set the league record for assists in a game and made field goals with 35 assists for 45 made baskets. Minnesota racked up assists primarily by getting deflections and creating easy opportunities in transition. They also worked the ball inside to Sylvia Fowles who scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds and was incredibly efficient in finding open shooters as she notched a season high five assists. The passing was especially impressive in the first half as the Lynx assisted on 20 of their first 21 baskets. Minnesota forward Maya Moore acknowledged the crisp ball movement after the game.
“We felt it, but we didn’t know we were setting a record. That’s just an indication of I think really our defense. When we are that active, we can get out and run because a lot of those were in transition. Being aggressive to the paint, just the commitment to being disruptive on defense and sharing the ball on offense. That’s encouraging when we see the results of that. It was just a really fun night when everyone is involved like that.”
Powered by 11 early points from Moore, the team lead by 10 after one quarter and never looked back. The Lynx steadily built their lead throughout the night and despite Chicago clawing back to within 11 early in the fourth, the game was really never in question. Chicago needed the win to remain in playoff contention, and with the loss are now officially eliminated from the postseason. The Sky battled had with nice contributions from Stephanie Dolson (20 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast, 4 3pt) and Courtney Vandersloot (14 pts, 9 ast, 3 stl) but ultimately couldn’t overcome Minnesota’s smothering defense.
Having avenged the July loss in Chicago, the Lynx continue a stellar stretch of playing well at home. Minnesota’s struggles over the final third of this season have been well documented. However, those struggles haven’t been as abundant during home games in St. Paul. Over their last ten games the Lynx are 3-3 in away games and 3-1 in home games, and they’ve scored over 100 points in their last three home contests. The team is a juggernaut at home and Friday night against Chicago was no exception. If they can put forth that type of performance in their Xcel Energy Center finale, they’ll be rewarded with home court advantage throughout the 2017 WNBA Playoffs.
The Lynx announced before the game that Sylvia Fowles had signed a contract extension with the team. Details were not announced but Fowles said after the game she intends to finish her career in Minnesota.
Maya Moore hit four threes in this game and set a new franchise record for three-pointers made with 461.
Chicago is the current home of the WNBA player with the best basketball name in the league: Jordan Hooper
The Minnesota Lynx with wrap up the regular season on Sunday September 3rd against Washington. The game is at 3pm CT and you can watch it on FSN.