Defense and rebounding are a hallmark of any Cheryl Reeve team. She isn’t going to be a happy coach when her Lynx are lacking in these areas.
“Over the last seven games we’re 12th in the league in defensive rebounding,” Reeve said pregame. “That’s a knife in my heart.”
On Sunday night in Minneapolis the team put forth a performance on the boards that should heal their coach’s wounds. They pulled in 48 total rebounds including 33 on the defensive glass; both season-high marks. Their dominance creating extra possession was utter and complete. Minnesota was able to get 14 second chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Five Lynx players had multiple o-boards including Napheesa Collier who had four herself. Defense and rebounding are why the team has been successful this season. It’s as simple as that.
The game was close throughout the first half. All those rebounds plus offensive contributions from Sylvia Fowles and Odyssey Sims powered the Lynx. Sims had 13 of her 15 points before halftime. Meanwhile the WNBA’s leading scorer DeWanna Bonner was singlehandedly keeping her Mercury in the game with 22 first half points of her own. She hit four of her first five three point shots as she found herself wide open on a number of occasions.
The second half was a different story. Bonner didn’t score in the third quarter as the Lynx outscored the Mercury 20-11 in the frame. Without Diana Taurasi (who missed her 14th game of the season), Phoenix needs Bonner in order to get enough consistent scoring. After the game, coach Reeve talked about second half adjustments in defending Bonner.
“The adjustment was to recognize where you are in your help position. You don’t want to not help. You gotta be able to get back to the player you’re guarding. I just thought overall (Collier) was better in the second half.”
Minnesota outscored Phoenix 39-27 in the second half. Danielle Robinson and Collier took over the scoring load adding a combined 22 points on 10-14 shooting. The Lynx used a 13-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to push their lead to 16 and ultimately win the game.
Sweet, Sweet Syl
Fowles made history Sunday night. Her 14 points and 13 rebounds gave her career double-double number 158 which passed Lisa Leslie for the most all time.
Fowles is undoubtably one of the best players in the history of the league. Her consistency on both ends of the floor are a marvel to watch. Post players still run the WNBA and Fowles is as important to the Lynx success over the last decade as anything else. Much like Tina Charles in New York, she’s become underrated over the years due to her numbing consistency and “boring” back to the basket offensive game. However, with her world class paint protection and restricted area scoring, Fowles affects a basketball game like few others.
With 14 points and 11 rebounds Collier notched her first career double-double. Only 157 more to catch Fowles.
Temi Fagbenle played her first regular season game of the season. The Lynx waived Alaina Coates before the game which means Fagbenle will primarily play backup center. Fagbenle played extremely well in EuroBasket 2019. She led the tournament in scoring and was named to the “All-Star Five” team. While Coates filled her role decently well in her time with the Lynx, Fagbenle represents an opportunity for a big upgrade to the team’s bench.
Brittney Griner had a relatively pedestrian game with only 12 points on 11 shots and five rebounds. It’s always a treat to watch Fowles and Griner battle in the paint, but typically Fowles bests her in individual stats and in the final score.
Minnesota will have two days off before facing Seattle at home on Wednesday night. This rubber match will be the deciding game in the season series between these teams. Tip off is at 7pm.
Watch: NBA TV, NBA TV Canada, Fox Sports North
Listen: BOB 106.1 FM