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Lynx 76, Storm 70: Give Sylvia Fowles Her Damn Respect

The Lynx snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Storm behind a performance for the ages from Sylvia Fowles.

Seattle Storm v Minnesota Lynx Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Sylvia Fowles is the greatest center in the history of women’s basketball.

Straight up, full stop.

  • Four Olympic gold medals and 10 gold medals overall with Team USA
  • One of five basketball players on the planet with four Olympic gold medals
  • 86-4 record (95.5 winning percentage) with Team USA
  • 2015 WNBA Champion
  • 2015 Finals MVP
  • 2017 WNBA Champion
  • 2017 Finals MVP
  • 2017 WNBA MVP
  • Six-time (and soon to seven-time) All-WNBA honoree
  • Seven WNBA All-Star appearances
  • Three-time (and soon to be four-time) WNBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • Nine-time (and soon to be 10-time) member of the WNBA All-Defensive Team
  • 2008 All-Rookie Team
  • First all-time in career rebounds, career defensive rebounds and rebounds per game
  • First all-time in career field goal, true shooting and effective field goal percentages
  • First in defensive win shares among active players
  • First in defensive rating among active players
  • 12th all-time in points
  • 10th all-time in made field goals
  • Third in offensive win shares among active players
  • 8th all-time in career offensive rating
  • Fourth among active players in career free throws made
  • Fourth all-time in career win shares

That’s without getting into single game stat line records and accolades she’s amassed over her 14 seasons of dominating in the WNBA.

There are good games, there are great games, there are historic games and then there are Sylvia Fowles games.

The Post with the Most™ (shoutout Lynx PA announcer Sy Huff)— at age 35 — made tonight a hellacious trip to the nicest state in the country for the defending champion Seattle Storm with a game that made its viewing experience feel like a spiritual trip through the heavens.

After Fowles put the finishing touches on her masterpiece, the stat sheet read 29 points on 10/17 shooting, 20 (!) rebounds, four steals, three blocks, one assist, zero turnovers and zero fouls.

“Our league has grossly underserved Sylvia Fowles’s career,” head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said postgame. “Sylvia Fowles is the most underserved player in the league. You’ll never see the league pushing Sylvia Fowles. When is the last time Sylvia Fowles got a player of the week?”

After the game, several Lynx players gave Fowles her flowers on Twitter, praising one of the greatest to ever do it.

Napheesa Collier echoed Reeve’s sentiment of frustration.

When asked about her message to those who doubt the Fowles, herself or the Lynx, she replied quickly. “I don’t even have a message for [the league and the national media]. It’s not about them. It’s about us. We know how special that we are,” Collier said. “If they’re not seeing that, then that’s their loss. Apparently they’re going to be shocked when they see us do great things. It’s a surprise coming for them.”

The Minnesota Lynx have arrived. As winners of 11 of their last 15 games, they know they can hang with the best of the WNBA; they led from wire-to-wire in a big victory in Downtown Minneapolis on national television.

“Seattle’s had our number for the last couple of years,” Fowles said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the game. “To build momentum for us, it was a confidence builder to us to know that we actually can play with Seattle.”

Fowles showed early that not only could she hang with the Storm, but that she could dominate them, too.

In the first quarter, she wrestled for positioning down low with Mercedes Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Katie Lou Samuelson, continuously putting all three under the rim and either finishing or creating an open lane for her teammates to work with. On the other end, Fowles blocked Breanna Stewart’s second shot of the game, came up with a very athletic and perfectly-timed steal, forced two more turnovers, added another block and hauled in an eye-opening seven rebounds.

She worked well in tandem with Kayla McBride, who made several key back cuts over the course of the game, to maintain excellent spacing and keep the defense guessing as to where the Lynx would attack from.

That spacing created by Fowles also helped Collier off on the right foot. Collier, who has struggled offensively since the return from the Olympic break, put up seven points in the first frame, which was a welcomed sight for the young star.

Those struggles returned in the second quarter, however, prompting Reeve to play entirely through her Hall of Fame center. Just like UPS through the pouring rain yesterday, Fowles delivered again and again.

Fowles’ hard rolling off screens was no match for Seattle’s defense.

“I tend to speed myself up, but the last couple games, I’m not letting people rush me. When I’m at a steady pace, I’m at my best,” Fowles said postgame. “Tonight it showed again.

It looked as if Fowles couldn’t care less how many defenders were around her when she caught the ball. That mentality, combined with a bag that includes a counter for every defensive scheme you could imagine, enabled her to dominate inside.

“She just loves her teammates, loves this franchise and loves the game,” Reeve said. “That’s what she’s showing you is how much she loves the game. ... I just think there’s nothing that she can’t do.”

Seattle Storm v Minnesota Lynx Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Her halftime stat line of 19 points, 13 rebounds (a franchise record for rebounds in a half), three steals, and two blocks perfectly summarized her impact on both ends of the floor.

While things were generally clicking offensively for the Lynx in the first half, the Storm started to get open looks on most trips down the floor in the back half of the second quarter, which became a problem for Minnesota on the other end of the halftime break.

Couple that with poor offensive ball movement — the Lynx’s achilles heel of late — and you have a close game with the momentum starting to shift.

Enter Bridget Carleton.

She comes into the game in the third quarter and hits a massive 3-pointer to go up six, 51-45, following a 7-2 Storm run to close the gap. Then, Carleton took a charge on the next possession, immediately after which Fowles made two free throws. On the next trip, Carleton made a terrific play to get a steal, and then a couple possessions later throws a perfect entry pass to Fowles, leading to two more free throws.

All of that came in the midst of Carleton playing lockdown defense on Stewart, whom Carleton held to two points over the final nine minutes of the third quarter.

“We thought her minutes were huge,” Reeve said. “There were two players that we mentioned in that locker room and BC was the first one,” she continued. “Bridget does everything you ask of her. She’s one of those players that does things right. I think she sensed we needed some perimeter shooting. So when she got those chances she did [make perimeter shots].”

Carleton’s massive impact in those nine minutes, combined with Fowles’ interior scoring gravity, ultimately saved the game from slipping away. It held off Seattle just enough to give Minnesota some breathing room heading into the fourth.

Much to Fowles’ delight, help arrived in the fourth quarter. As they have all season, the Lynx role players stepped up and made statement plays in playoff-like moments.

Layshia Clarendon hit a big pull-up in transition.

After struggling with foul trouble thanks to a couple of extremely questionable foul calls, Damiris Dantas answered the bell.

After getting a couple of key stops thanks to a blown layup and Fowles protecting the rim, Phee couldn’t have picked a better time to make arguably the biggest shot of her season to shut the door on the defending champs and break a seven-game losing streak against the Storm.

The Lynx closed it out, 76-70, moving to 15-9 overall. Minnesota remains in fourth place in the WNBA standings, trailing Seattle and Las Vegas Aces each by two games and Connecticut by three games.

With the win tonight, Minnesota has now beaten every team above them in the standings at least once. The Lynx are 1-2 against Connecticut, 2-0 against Las Vegas and 1-2 against Seattle. They hold tiebreakers over key teams such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas and Los Angeles, with a chance to win the tiebreaker over New York next week.

Minnesota has the weakest remaining strength of schedule of any team in the WNBA, as well.

Game Notes, courtesy of Lynx PR

  • Sylvia Fowles’ 20 rebounds equaled her best rebounding game as a Lynx, which matches the franchise record that was initially set by Rebekkah Brunson in 2012.
  • Fowles recorded a double-double in the first half for the seventh time in her career, trailing only Tina Charles’ eight first half double-doubles.
  • The only other player in Lynx history to record multiple first half double-doubles is Maya Moore (two). Fowles now has four.
  • Tonight was Napheesa Collier’s 38th career game of scoring 15-plus points and grabbing 5-plus rebounds.
  • Minnesota held Seattle to 28-of-74 shooting (37.8%). The Lynx are now 128-4 (8-0 this season) since 2011 when holding opponents under 40% shooting.
  • Fowles is the first player in WNBA history to record at least 20 rebounds against the Seattle Storm, per Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune.

Game Highlights

Minnesota now has a week off before they take on the New York Liberty at Target Center next Tuesday, August 31 at 7 PM CT on Amazon Prime Video.