Mere days before the WNBA All Star game in Las Vegas, the Minnesota Lynx took a trip to Nevada to face off against the Aces. The game was closely contested throughout the afternoon with neither team able to mount a double digit lead. Aces power forward and All Star captain A’Ja Wilson sprained her ankle on Friday’s loss to Seattle and did not play in Sunday’s game. Her fellow superstar teammate Liz Cambage picked up the slack in Wilson’s absence. Cambage scored a season high 22 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
The game got off to a great start with a scintillating first quarter that saw each team come out of the gates piping hot. Both Minnesota and Las Vegas shot about 60% and combined for 54 points in the first ten minutes. Las Vegas hit four of their six threes in the frame and Sylvia Fowles had seven early points for the Lynx. Kelsey Plum was the engine for the Aces as she added five points and six assists in the first quarter.
If this game was a sandwich the bread would be a fresh, fluffy marbled rye. Meanwhile, the contents inside the sandwich would be rancid. The second and third quarters of this air-tight sandwich analogy were terrible. Fowles picked up her third foul with eight minutes remaining on the second quarter and sat on the bench for the rest of the half. The game see-sawed back and forth as both teams kicked the ball all over the gym. Furthermore, the middle section of the game featured a lot of fouls. Both of these elements combined to create a sour experience. I’ll have the salad next time.
Thankfully, basketball games don’t end after the third quarter. With the score tied heading into the fourth, the explosive finale of this game lived up to the precedent set in the first quarter. The offense opened up and both squads did a better job taking care of the ball. Odyssey Sims had 13 of her team high 19 points in the second half as she attempted to will the Lynx to victory.
In the end Cambage won this game for her team. She was up and down throughout the afternoon but saved her best for last. Cambage was unstoppable in the fourth quarter scoring 11 of her 22 on 5-6 shooting. Fowles is as good of a matchup as anyone in the league on Cambage and did a nice job over the course of the game at denying post-entry passes to the Aussie center. Cambage switched up her approach in the second half and had success knocking down the mid range jump shot rather than exclusively setting up shop in the paint.
Losing a great player like Wilson will obviously be a problem for Las Vegas, but with a wonderful front court player like Dearica Hamby ready to step in, and a superstar center taking care of business in the post, the Aces can weather this storm.
Damiris Dantas returned to the Lynx lineup after missing the last seven games. Dantas was wonderful in a starting role for the first 11 games of the year. The Lynx are at their defensive best when she’s on the floor. Also her ability to open up space for Fowles with her three point shot is very valuable. She only played 18 mins and made one shot, but she also added four assists. It’s just good to see her back on out there.
Former Lynx Sydney Colson appeared to badly sprain her ankle late in the game. She’s been solid as the Aces backup point guard this season. Las Vegas is catching the injury bug.
Stephanie Talbot had another nice game off the bench. She scored 14 points including two threes. Her ability to perform as more than just a shooter is always a big boost. She had five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Lynx play their final game before the All Star break Wednesday afternoon in Minneapolis. The Washington Mystics will feel the wrath of 15,000 shrieking children as they descend upon Target Center for the annual “Camp Day.” Tip off is at noon. Ear plugs are required.
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