As any successful franchise should, the Minnesota Lynx entered the 2021 season with championship aspirations, especially after a big offseason that saw them retool with some major moves. However, a bumpy start to the year paired with a few injuries left the Lynx in a bit of an unfamiliar place — the bottom of the WNBA standings.
Entering Sunday night against the Connecticut Sun, Minnesota found themselves 0-4 to start the season, and it wasn’t going to get much easier against the blazing hot Sun who entered Target Center with the best record in the WNBA (6-1).
If you caught Sunday’s game, the first quarter was more of the same for the Lynx — very few shots went in and the once championship-level defense was yet again nowhere to be found. Trailing 27-15 after the first 10 minutes left many fans (myself included) worried about how this one would eventually play out, but unlike other games to start this season, the Lynx quickly figured things out in the second quarter, outscoring the Sun by 8 and holding the best record in the league to a mere 10 points in 10 minutes.
HT: Sun 37, Lynx 33— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) May 30, 2021
Bonner: 11 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast
Thomas: 10 pts, 2 ast
J. Jones: 6 pts, 2 ast
Fowles: 10 pts, 2 ast
Collier: 6 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast, 2 blk, 3 TO, 3 PFs
McBride: 3 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl
Clarendon: 3 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl
Full stats ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/oBEpafoVr0
As Jack mentioned in a follow-up tweet, head coach Cheryl Reeve called Friday night one of the most disappointing defensive performances of her tenure in Minnesota, and her team clearly used that as motivation in the second quarter (and throughout the rest of the game to be honest).
Again, if you missed this one, not only did you miss an impressive second quarter performance, but also a feverish fourth quarter comeback that saw the Lynx outscore the Sun 8-0 over the final 2:35 to not only force overtime, but also secure their first victory of the season.
Side note: overtime almost wasn’t even necessary as the Lynx came within milliseconds of stealing the game outright in regulation:
THAT CLOSE.— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) May 31, 2021
time for some free basketball. pic.twitter.com/71muHzkUDS
After forcing OT, the Lynx dominated the final five minutes, led mostly by Napheesa Collier and Sylvia Fowles, who combined for 35 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 blocks against Connecticut.
No proper game recap would be complete without also mentioning the play of Layshia Clarendon. The one-time Connecticut Sun guard had a strong debut with the Minnesota Lynx, finishing the game with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
As Marney Gellner said at the beginning of the interview, Clarendon literally signed a contract hours before tip-off, which makes this performance on Sunday night all that more special (and memorable). There’s no doubt in my mind that the Lynx would have lost this game without Clarendon’s production off the bench, so credit to not only Layshia for being ready but to the Lynx organization as well for possibly finding yet another gem to add to their roster.
FINAL: Lynx 79, Sun 74— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) May 31, 2021
Lynx get their first win of the year in a gritty comeback
Fowles: 24 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk
Clarendon: 12 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, +11
Collier: 11 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast, 2 blk
McBride: 11 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast
J. Jones: 22 pts, 5 reb
Bonner: 18 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast pic.twitter.com/Lr77VBHMDI
The Lynx will be back in action starting this coming Friday, with a weekend double-header at home against the Atlanta Dream. While the start of the season wasn’t very promising, the Lynx showed some things in the second half tonight that should make fans take a deep sigh of relief going forward. There are still some things on both the offensive and defensive ends to sort out, but the Lynx did what they needed to do on Sunday night against a really talented Suns team — secure their first win and start to right the ship.