As bad losses go, Tuesday night’s disaster at Target Center is about as bad as any Lynx defeat over the last few years.
Considering each team’s overall talent, league standing, and ambitions for this season, the result is supremely disappointing. Their 59 points is the least amount scored by the team in a game since June 2013 and the least at Target Center since 2010. The home town fans were treated to an embarrassing game. Minnesota did not look like a team attempting to win their eighth contest in a row. Instead they let one of the youngest teams in the league outplay them in almost every facet of the game.
Offense Turned Off
The Lynx aren’t going to win many games when their superstars Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles combine to shoot 7-27 from the field. Moore settled for long shots and couldn’t get into the paint while Fowles faced double teams and missed easy shots in the restricted area. Thankfully nights like this are rare for Minnesota and at least one of them scores efficiently.
“We were never able to get consecutive scores,” head coach Cheryl Reeve added after the game.
“They controlled the entire game. We did not. We were bad offensively from the get go. What you hope for is others step up. And we just couldn’t get it done. Ceci [Zandalasini] was 2-9, Alexis Jones 1-7, [Whalen] 1-5 so it was obviously a contagious thing.”
Minnesota set season low marks in points (59), field goal percentage (32.8%), made field goals (22) and free throw percentage (60%). The Lynx couldn’t get much to fall and much of that was a result of the Fever’s defensive activity and scheme. They put immense ball pressure on Lynx guards while successfully helping and recovering on Fowles. This should be the nadir of their offense this season. It can’t get much worse.
The Quickness of Youth
Indiana used Lynx missed shots and turnovers to get into the open court and exploit Minnesota’s biggest weakness: transition defense. The Fever scored 12 points off the Lynx 13 turnovers and finished with 18 fast break points. Minnesota can be turnover prone and when they commit a live-ball mistakes, it almost always results in a layup going the other way. The Lynx are at their best when they make their opponent take the ball out of the net. This give Minnesota time to set up their excellent defense. After the game Fever center Natalie Achonwa talked about the importance of running on the Lynx.
“When we’re playing in transition it just makes it easier because they’re so long and athletic (in half court) defense. If we can play quick in transition and utilize our youth and speed we can put two points on the board very quickly.”
The Lynx have now played exactly half of their regular season games. Despite this putrid loss the team is actually in a nice position (10-7) after dropping six of their first nine games. They’re in the mix with the best teams in the league in a cluttered upper-half of the standings. Minnesota also will benefit from a slightly softer second half schedule. Their seven game win streak demonstrated that they have what it takes for another deep playoff run. Tuesday’s loss shows that there is still work to be done.
Rebekkah Brunson was the lone Lynx player who stood out in this game. She played her usual rugged defense, scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists. It was her third career 10+/10+/5+ game.
Lynx backup PG Danielle Robinson was active but did not play due to a sore hamstring.
WNBA veteran scoring guard Cappie Pondexter was recently cut by the Los Angeles Sparks. Tuesday was her first game with the Indiana Fever. She had 12 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Minnesota is going to have a few shots at revenge on Indiana as the two teams will face each other two times in as many weeks.
The Sparks come to town on Thursday as the Lynx try to get their first win against Los Angeles this season. Tip off is at 7pm. You can watch the game on ESPN2 or listen at BOB 106FM.