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Lynx 101, Sky 95: Back on Track

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Minnesota wraps up the road trip with a W

Minnesota Lynx v Chicago Sky Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

Just 48 hours after being dealt their second straight defeat at the hands of the Connecticut Sun, the Minnesota Lynx got back to their winning ways Saturday.

Minnesota’s odds for victory improved significantly pre-game when it was announced that Candace Parker would not play due to an ankle injury. Without the 2020 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the Sky are a less-fearsome foe. Look no further than their win-loss record: 10-4 with Parker, 1-8 without. After witnessing the strife and stress put on the Lynx offense by the length and athleticism of the Sun earlier in the week, the Sky defense was tame by comparison.

For large portions of the game Minnesota generated efficient offense on their way to their highest point total of the year. Ironically, getting to the free throw line was a massive factor. The Lynx shot a season-high 33 free throws just two nights after complaining vehemently about a lack of calls. Coincidence? Probably.

Chicago was able to hang with the potent Lynx scoring with hot shooting of their own from Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot. The wedded duo found themselves open frequently and did not hesitate to make Minnesota pay. The Sky also scored 13 first half points in transition due to live-ball turnovers given up by the Lynx. Like most teams, Chicago is a much easier team to defend in the half court rather than in transition.

This Lynx win was heavily influenced by a trio of Minnesota guards giving the team a much needed offensive boost. For the second straight game Layshia Clarendon provided a scoring punch with their bully-ball drives and timely basket cuts. They led the team in scoring with 16 points on 8-12 shooting. Clarendon was especially helpful in the early portion of the game when she made her first seven shots.

Aerial Powers returned to action after missing the last nine and a half weeks with a hand ligament injury. She was the second biggest name in Minnesota’s free agency blitz last winter, yet had only appeared in four games prior to Saturday. She was solid in her 14 minutes, hitting a few jumpers and getting to the line for six free throw attempts. Powers should be a huge boost to the team’s depth. She’s a high-effort player who can guard her position on one end and get into the lane on the other. A huge upgrade over Banham’s limited appeal.

Finally something of a throwback game for the youngest player on the Minnesota Lynx. Crystal Dangerfield has had an up and (mostly) down season. She’s struggled to see the floor since the team’s forgettable 0-4 start. Since then her new role as the backup point guard hasn’t exactly been inspiring either. Issues with turnovers, shot selection and confidence seemed to plague her. Dangerfield put this all aside Saturday night and played her best game of the season. During an eight minute stint that bridged the third and fourth quarter she scored 13 points on 4-5 shooting and put the team on her back. The stretch was huge for the outcome of the game, her resting teammates, and Dangerfield’s own confidence.

A road win over the formidable Chicago Sky (even without Parker) is a great way to bounce back from a disappointing set of games in Uncasville. The team is essentially at full strength for the first time this season. After Tuesday’s game against the world champs, only two of Minnesota’s final eight opponents are currently playoff teams. Nothing is ever certain, but the Lynx have positioned themselves well for the final month of the regular season.

Notes

Kahleah Copper is nice. What a player. Her dribble-drive game is breathtaking and she’s a menace on defense. Somehow she is more valuable than teammate Diamond DeShields.

Speaking of which, what is happening with Diamond DeShields? She came off the bench and was horrendous in this game. She’s one of the most athletic players the league has ever seen on the wing. How has she not put it all together yet?

Sometimes WNBA broadcasts aren’t great. That is not the case with the Chicago Sky! Lisa Byington and Meghan McKeown are very good at what they do.

Napheesa Collier air-balled a free throw.

Up Next

The Lynx return to face a very good basketball team called the Seattle Storm on Tuesday night. Jewel Loyd has been incandescent since returning from Tokyo with a gold medal around her neck. Tip off is at 6pm and can be seen on ESPN2.