A dominant third quarter and a career night from Stephanie Talbot helped the Lynx notch a win over the Atlanta Dream. The the long range shooter acquired just before the season started in a trade with Phoenix scored 24 points including five made threes, both career high marks. Fowles and Sims both added 16 points by getting into the paint at will. Minnesota had large advantages in points in the paint, rebounds and fast break points.
Nobody has had a worse first third of the season than Atlanta. They are firmly nestled at the bottom of the league table and are last in offensive and defensive rating. They have talent and continuity but can’t seem to put it all together yet. Of course the absence of Angel McCoughtry hurts, but they should be better than this.
The Dream looked good to start the game as they came out of the gates connecting on their first six shots. Brittney Sykes and Elizabeth Williams paced the team and provided energy and effort. The first half was well played and Atlanta looked like the team they seem to be on paper.
“We had moments,” Dream head coach Nicki Collen said after the game. “Our ball screen defense was solid. Sometimes we gotta take fouls in transition and not let them get easy baskets. I thought our half court defense was solid we made some mistakes but where we got beat were in second shots and in transition. They got too many easy ones.”
As the night worn on, the Dream struggled to hang with the Lynx. Minnesota opened the second half with a 14-3 run and would outscore the Dream 28-16 in the third quarter. Turning Atlanta over and cashing in on the mistakes, Minnesota opened up the floor and ran away with the game.
From Downtown and Down Under
A few days before the season started Stephanie Talbot was acquired by the Lynx in exchange for a their second round pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Brought in to come off the bench in a “3 & D” role, Talbot has seen her playing time skyrocket with the injuries to Seimone Augustus, Karima Christmas-Kelly and Dantas. The deep ball is why she’s in the league, but she’s impressed by also crashing the glass and contributing in team defensive concepts.
In her second start of the season Talbot’s career high 24 was a breeze. She was often left wide open as Dream players helped off her to swarm Fowles. Even after she had made a few shots Dream defenders did not close out to her with any urgency. Talbot simply did what she does best, rise up and fire.
“Every single time you’re open, I don’t care what time is on the shot clock, you shoot it,” Cheryl Reeve recalls telling Talbot. “She was such a big part of what we got done offensively. She’s a great three point shooter.”
Elite defense is a cornerstone of any Cheryl Reeve team. You can count on the Lynx to stop their opponents, and this year has been no exception. With Sylvia Fowles and Damiris Dantas in the middle and Danielle Robinson and Odyssey Sims hounding guards on the perimeter, you’re going to be hard to play against. Scoring the ball is where the team has been inconsistent this season. After a tough offensive start to the year, suddenly the Lynx have the fourth best offense in the league. It seems like they’ve found something.
Fast break points are becoming a more reliable form of scoring for the Lynx. Defensive rebounds and steals are opportunities to get into transition or semi-transition offense, and Minnesota is getting the ball up the floor with urgency. The roster is as young and quick as it has been in many years. It’s nice to see the Lynx finally start to play like it.
Sylvia Fowles picked up her second technical foul in as many games. She thought she deserved a foul call and her ensuing comments earned her the tech.
Napheesa Collier added a career high 11 rebounds. Even on nights when she’s not filling up the scoring column she finds other ways to impact the game.
Backup center Alaina Coates had a career high ten points and a season high nine rebounds off the bench.
The first returns of WNBA All Star fan voting has Collier and Fowles with the 9th and 10th most votes respectively. Fowles is no surprise, but Collier sneaking into the top 10 as a rookie is impressive.
The Lynx start a three game road trip on Saturday when they face off against Connecticut. The game tips off at noon.
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