Basketball is a game of runs. That’s a cliche for a reason, and that’s because its true! Not many games are tightly contested from beginning to end. Players can get hot, certain lineups or matchups click into place, or simple circumstances can spark one team to dominate for a stretch of time. Friday’s tilt took those runs to the extreme and saw the Wings outscore the Lynx 33-5 during a large portion of the first half, and Minnesota returning the favor with a 34-10 run of their own after halftime.
The opening few minutes of this one were fantastic for Minnesota. Their ball movement was on-point, open shots were everywhere and the Damiris Dantas/Napheesa Collier combo was singing. Before you knew it the Lynx had taken a 13 point lead.
Then everything changed.
Suddenly Dallas was living in the lane and breaking down the Lynx defense with regularity. The Wings turned up their defensive effort and forced turnovers that allowed them to burn Minnesota in transition. Allisha Gray notched a career high 26 points and much of that came during the first half where she was seemingly unstoppable.
For over ten minutes across the end of the first quarter the beginning of the second quarter the Wings outscored the Lynx 33-5. It was a bizarre, frustrating period where Minnesota looked completely lost. Their offense was discombobulated and they rolled out the red carpet for the Wings to waltz to the rim. The Lynx didn’t score a FG for this entire stretch and absolutely nothing was working.
“It was maybe the worst basketball we’ve played all season in that second quarter,” Cheryl Reeve lamented postgame. “Between not putting the ball in the hole, not getting back on defense, not doing anything, it was just awful.”
Minnesota went into the locker room, regrouped and played the second half as a totally different team. It started on defense as they worked extra hard to barricade the paint and made Dallas earn their points from distance rather than get easy attempts at the rim. After giving up a whopping 30 points in the paint to the Wings in the first half, the Lynx didn’t allow Dallas to score once in the lane in the third quarter. A big part of that also involved dominating the glass where Minnesota held a commanding 43-23 advantage.
Control of the game was regained by Minnesota due to the play of Odyssey Sims. She looked like a player possessed after halftime. Despite the sorry play of her team in the second quarter, Sims was fiery and passionate and boosted the Lynx. They ripped off a 22-5 run to start the half that would ballon to 34-10 a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Rachel Banham took over for Sims at that point scoring eight of her 11 points and also adding two assists to cap off the game.
“Odyssey was just so good for us,” Reeve added after the game. “When she went back in there she helped us settle things down a little bit. She was such a big factor. Defending players who were really challenging as well as trying to create some things for us to get to the basket for some tough finishes. She made some permitter shots and shared the ball well.”
Minnesota has established that they can claw back from any deficit. This game marked the sixth double-digit come back win of the season for the Lynx. That ability was on full display again on Friday night. Not all games are created equal. Sometimes you have to ride the runs like waves in the ocean. Sometimes those waves are unexpectedly massive.
The overall offensive effort from Minnesota was balanced. Six players scored in double figures.
Napheesa Collier scored 14 points and finished with a career-high-tying 14 rebounds.
Banham seems to have settled nicely into her bench scoring role. She doesn’t need to do too much. Just spot up for threes, run a little pick and roll and be passable on defense. It’s totally within her skillset.
The future of the Dallas Wings lies with first and second year players Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. Neither had impressive offensive games combining to shoot 7-26 from the field.
Minnesota will get to see how they measure up to the title favorite Seattle Storm on Sunday. Tip off is 5pm CT
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