The Minnesota Lynx lost another close one. Essentially each of their six losses on the season have been close. Their greatest margin of defeat was when they lost to Seattle by seven in early-June. The Lynx late-game execution is still a work in progress. Through the first third of the WNBA season, the team sits at 6-6.
Losing hurts, but losing after being the superior team for the majority of the game is a special type of pain. Minnesota led by 12 at halftime and had a three point lead with less than a minute remaining in the game and still was defeated. This loss felt a lot like the game two weeks ago against Las Vegas- stolen from underneath them. Lynx guards Danielle Robinson and Odyssey Sims led the way for Minnesota, the latter scored a game-high 23 and was extremely effective with her own shot as well as setting up her teammates.
Despite a poor defensive first half, Dallas hung around and kept contact with the Lynx. Then the Wings went on a 17-3 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter putting them up 73-70. The Lynx retook the lead and were up 84-81 with 55 second remaining but were then outscored 8-2 to finish the game.
With respects to Sylvia Fowles who added 14 points, nine rebounds and her consistent all-league defense, this game was highlighted by a trio of guards. Sims led all scorers with 23. She brought her trademark “shifty” on-ball game in this one. Slithering around screens and into the paint, Sims earned ten free throws in Dallas, a season-high mark. Almost as important as her half court scoring was her ability to fire hit-ahead passes in transition and open up opportunities for her teammates. Sims had eight assists which was also a season high for her. After a very slow start to the season Sims is looking more comfortable in a Lynx uniform.
Robinson has been one of Minnesota’s most consistent two-way players so far this year. In Dallas she scored a season-high 16 points and hit two three pointers. The numbers don’t quite yet show it, but she’s a more confident, involved offensive player than in the past. Robinson now steps into open jump shots and is even comfortable spotting up in the corner for threes. Her main value will always lie in her defense and transition speed, but the extra lift in offense sets have been a welcome improvement.
2019 number five overall pick Arike Ogunbowale has had a nice start to her WNBA career. She leads all rookies in scoring and FGA. Dallas sees her as a cornerstone of their future. She’s playing big minute and putting up big numbers. Ogunbowale was quiet in the first half but got into a groove after halftime where she scored 15 points on eight shots. The rookie came through in the clutch scoring eight in the game’s final 2:30 including two enormous threes. Ogunbowale looks like yet another future star in an already deep league.
The Lynx will reportedly lose Karima Christmas-Kelly for the rest of the year due to continued issues with her knee which she had microfracture surgery on a year ago. Damiris Dantas was a late scratch in this game due to a calf injury. Pair these two with Jessica Shepard who is done for the season with an ACL injury and Seimone Augustus who has not yet played in 2019 and should return before the end of July. The Lynx are beat up. The good news is that reinforcements are coming. Ceclia Zandalasini and Temi Fagbenle are midway through competing for their home countries in the EuroBasket 2019 tournament.
Both players will finish play at some point this week and hopefully quickly report to Minneapolis. Their roster will greatly benefit from adding two players who played for Cheryl Reeve last season. Minnesota will likely have to go into battle the next few games with their eight healthy players. The Europeans can’t return soon enough.
The Lynx are pushing the pace more often and Sunday’s game featured a season-high 15 fast break points. Sims and other Lynx guards are constantly looking ahead to get the ball up the floor and it has helped the team find easier shots and free throw opportunities.
Sunday’s loss snapped a 12 game winning streak against the Wings.
Shao Ting played her first meaningful minutes of the year. She also scored her first WNBA basket and picked up her first WNBA technical foul for defensive three seconds.
Minnesota returns home to face the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday night. Tip off is at 7pm CT. The Dream finished 2018 with the second best record in the league, but are currently 2-8 and are last in the league standings.
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