Facing off against the newly relocated Aces (formerly the San Antonio Stars) the Lynx took care of business Sunday in Las Vegas. Maya Moore had 23 points and six rebounds while Sylvia Fowles had 20 points, ten rebounds and three blocks to lead the Lynx.
Rookie of the year frontrunner A’ja Wilson was kept in check primarily due to the wonderful defense of Rebekkah Brunson. She fronted and frustrated the young star and held her to only ten points, her lowest mark this season.
The Aces are about as young as it gets in the WNBA. With three rookies, and three second year players in their regular rotation, their best days are still ahead of them. However Las Vegas has been decidedly not-horrible this year. Three teams have worse records than the Aces and top overall draft pick A’Ja Wilson has been the main reason why.
All of that being said, this is easily the least talented team Minnesota has faced this season. The Lynx ran out to a 9-0 start to open this game and Las Vegas never recovered. The dirty secret of the Lynx rough start to the season is their schedule has featured exactly zero of the three worst teams in the WNBA. That changed on Sunday as the Lynx met the lowly Aces. The difference in class was evident. While the overall talent level and parity of the league has gone up this season, the Aces, Sky and Fever are the bottom-feeders of the WNBA. Nine of Minnesota’s final 21 games are against these teams.
The Lynx set a new season record for points in any quarter with 32 in the third. The game was decided in the opening stretch of the quarter as Minnesota turned their six point halftime lead into 16 going on a 14-4 run. Their offense was crisp and thoughtful while Las Vegas turned the ball over and settled for bad shots on the other end. The Lynx finished the quarter with an 18 point lead after going 13/16 from the field. During this current four game win streak Minnesota has been great in the opening minutes in each half. Big runs to start the first and third quarters are a fantastic way to overwhelm a young team, especially on the road.
After losing five of their first seven games, the Lynx are now on the upswing. They’ve won five of their last six and seem to have settled into a nice rhythm on offense. The rotation is still somewhat in flux, but the number of solid performances off the Minnesota bench has made nailing down a consistent nine-man rotation difficult. In a lot of ways its a nice problem to have. As long as the wins keep coming, it won’t be an issue.
After scoring a season-high 15 points in Phoenix on Friday, Lindsay Whalen had another wonderful game on Sunday, this time creating opportunities for her teammates with a season-high nine assists.
Backup center Temi Fagbenle also continues to impress. Her mobility on defense and ability to finish with either hand around the rim gives her team a nice option in the precious few minutes when Fowles is off the floor.
Lynetta Kizer is the most disappointing player on the roster. She’s gotten the quick-hook from coach Reeve more than any other non-young player on the team this season. The drop-off when she replaces Brunson on the floor is alarming. The team needs her to rebound and defend and she instead seems to prefer long two point shots and floating around the perimeter.
Aces second year player Kelsey Plum is a fantastic shooter and had it going in this game scoring 15 points on nine shots. Unfortunately her long-range shooting is her only WNBA skill that really stands out. Hopefully she can develop into a more multidimensional player over time.
The Lynx return to Target Center on Tuesday to take on the Seattle Storm for the first time this season. The Breanna Stewart/Jewell Loyd combination is finally bearing fruit for Seattle as they have the second best record in the WNBA. The game tips at 7pm. You can watch it on WNBA League Pass, Fox Sports Go or listen at BOB 106 FM.