Heading into Sunday afternoon’s game against the LA Sparks, the Lynx needed a win in the worst way. Unfortunately beating the Sparks at Staples Center has been a tough task for any WNBA team over the last few years. Minnesota was unable to get that much needed win and has now lost four games in a row.
The formula for Los Angeles mirrored that of their opening night win over the Lynx exactly two weeks ago: force turnovers and have the more dynamic offense. Minnesota turned the ball over 18 times resulting in 26 points for the Sparks. The LA defense deserves a lot of credit. Minnesota had a hard time moving the ball around the floor and were forced into a number of offensive fouls and traveling violations. Candace Parker was her typical sublime self scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Offense without Fowles
Minnesota’s offense looked great coming out of the gates. Sylvia Fowles was touching the ball nearly every possession and she scored four of the first six Lynx points. But then she picked up her second foul at the 6:05 mark of the first quarter and had to hit the bench. She also racked up her third and fourth fouls early in the second half which once again took her out of the game.
Non-Fowles lineups really struggled to score. The attention she demands truly unlocked the Lynx offense last season. Open shooters, cutters, and passing lanes are abundant when two players defend one. In short, Minnesota needs Fowles on the floor to generate efficient offense. When she sits, the Lynx get more stagnant, shots are better contested and they often find themselves working later into the shot clock.
In general Maya Moore needs to be better on offense. Her stats look fine, she’s filling the box score most nights, and on Sunday she was guarded by the 2017 defensive player of the year, but she hasnt left her imprint on many games so far this season. She has to do more to lessen the load on Fowles. Moore is possibly the most talented two-way player in the history of the league. The team needs her to have more “one-woman scoring runs” and make create offense for herself and others.
Big Minutes for Young Players
Two of the Lynx three second-year players had career high minute totals. Alexis Jones played 28 minutes, and Cecilia Zandalasini played 19 minutes on Sunday. Minnesota was shorthanded in this game due to the planned absence of guard Tanisha Wright who missed the game to be induced into the WPIAL hall of fame. Further complicating matters, starting PG Lindsay Whalen struggled at both ends of the floor and only was in the game for seven minutes. Cheryl Reeve relied on two young players who received DNP-CDs in Friday’s loss against Phoenix.
Both of them played well. Jones has a real future in this league despite playing behind Whalen and Danielle Robinson. Right now she has the reputation of being a just a shooter but she has already shown signs of growth. Jones has impressed by making reads in pick and roll and defending well for her size.
Zandalasini joined the team for the 2017 playoff run and has even fewer career WNBA minutes than Jones. She was only 1-4 in this game but gives the team a forward who can stretch the floor off the bench. Even in limited minutes her feel for the game and basketball IQ are apparent.
Minnesota cant be too disappointed in this loss given the circumstances, but obviously there is much work to be done. The turnovers and lack of offensive execution are unacceptable for a franchise that has set the bar so high. With the team not playing again until Thursday, it should be an interesting week at practice.
Fowles ‘ turnovers are officially an issue. She’s has totals of six (twice), five, and four (twice) in seven total games.
Danielle Robinson was great off the bench again. She had 12 points and brought her trademark elements of swag and energy to the game. Hopefully the team continues to experiment with lineups that allow her skills to be utilized. She’s an important player for this team.
Minnesota heads back to Washington DC to take on the Mystics on Thursday afternoon. Yes, a rare weekday 3PM CT matchup as the game was pushed back to accommodate a Washington Capitols Stanley Cup Finals watch part. *eye roll emoji* You can watch the game on WNBA League Pass or listen at BOB 106 FM.