Less than 48 hours after notching their first win of the season, the Minnesota Lynx arrived to Michelob ULTRA Arena to take on a Las Vegas Aces team who have been starting the season on fire, boasting the best offensive rating in the W. The Aces, now led by former San Antonio Stars legend and recent San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Becky Hammon, came out of the gates firing like a team that no longer had to play an archaic non-three-point-shooting offense. An 11-2 Aces lead was quickly whittled down due to the offensive contributions of Aerial Powers, who’s shooting splits were at career-lows entering the game, and rookie Evina Westbrook, who’s outstanding play on both ends continued. Trailing just by just one point, it looked like the Lynx were going to give the Aces a run for their money.
Add a dime for Banham 3 AND block on a 3PM! You can see why Reeve trusts her so much— Leo S (@Y0Leo) May 20, 2022
The Aces were playing with house money though.
Hammon’s team continued to fire away from deep against the suspect Minnesota defense that really struggled to contain dribble drive penetration. Specifically, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum picked apart the Lynx with their aggressive hunting for late or missed rotations, allowing Vegas to get open perimeter looks or easy paint attempts. The home team would regrow their lead to double digits despite another eight point quarter from Powers. Most noticeably absent from the scoring column was Kayla McBride, who had just hoisted the Lynx on her back in Los Angeles. KMac ended the first half 0-4 from the field with three personal fouls, visibly thrown off her rhythm for the entirety of the game. Another early second half foul would nail her to the bench for the majority of the remainder of the game, ending her night with an uncharacteristic goose egg.
Though there would be a few moments in the second half where Minnesota would get close to taking a lead, Vegas would mostly stay comfortably ahead. Whistles were much more dominating as both teams complained endlessly to no avail, but former number one draft pick Jackie Young would roast the Lynx by scoring a season-high 23 points from all over the court. Young’s contributions on both ends (Three steals) led a balanced attack where all five Aces starters would score at least 14 or more points. Minnesota got to as close as 81-85 with 4:01 remaining, but a critical flagrant-1 foul by Westbrook on a Young three point attempt would punctuate a five-point possession for Vegas.
The Aces easily cruised to the finish line from there.
It was always going to be a tough one for Minnesota, as Vegas has quickly locked into midseason form on offense while the Lynx are just starting to put things together. It was a gutsy performance for the visiting team though, as they hung in there and weathered multiple Aces runs. It just felt as though they have not progressed enough as a unit to outplay a very experienced and talented contender. Reeve spoke post game about what to expect moving forward.
Coach Reeve on team's progress: "I don't look at a record, I never do. You're always locked in on trying to win the game you're focused on, now we turn our attention to Dallas. That'll be the biggest game of the year because that's the next one."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) May 20, 2022
- The MVP for the Lynx tonight was obviously Aerial Powers. Not only was her shot finally dropping, but she had some highlight bullet passes to go along with the dirty work. It’s hard to complain about her efficiency (9/21) on a night where KMac was largely absent. She showed up to the post game presser sick as can be, coughing up a storm as she could hardly get through it. AP still pushed through to deliver a cool little nugget about how Michael Jordan (She’s a Team Jordan athlete) gave her advice to help her overcome the recent slump. Powers finished with a game-high 25 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two blocks.
blink and you might miss this AP assist pic.twitter.com/tRoaW38uRr— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) May 20, 2022
- It was yet another vintage Sylvia Fowles performance despite going up against former MVP A’ja Wilson and former 6WOY turned starter, Dearica Hamby. Though her final box score of 20 points and 11 rebounds may be tame by her standards, the lack of foul calls she gets in relation to the contact she takes is a bit ridiculous. Coach Reeve was quick to call it out in the post game, and Fowles concurred.
Sylvia Fowles on lack of FTA: "I think I definitely will have to be an a-hole at some point to get my point across... I feel it coming, I'm a tad bit annoyed."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) May 20, 2022
That's about as rude as Syl can be
- The role players for Minnesota also came to play tonight. Jess Shepard’s stock continues to rise as she poured in a 14 point, 14 rebound performance to go along with three assists, a steal, and a block. Mo Jefferson contributed 14 points and seven assists of her own as well.
- Today marked Cheryl Reeve’s 400th regular season game with the Lynx. The Aces broadcast was going on about celebrating Bill Laimbeer, who was in attendance, citing how much he has done for the game. Though true, let’s also take a moment to give flowers to one of, if not the best, to have ever done it in Minnesota/WNBA.
Minnesota’s road trip ends on Saturday as they hop on a plane to Texas tonight. They face the young upstart Dallas Wings on 5/21 @ 7:00pm CT. Sitting at 3-2, the Wings have been a bit of an enigma this season. They upset a strong Washington Mystics team earlier this year, but subsequently got crushed by them in the rematch four days later. However, they did just defeat the Phoenix Mercury in Arizona so they will surely be confident heading into this one. Arike Ogunbowale is always must-see TV as well, so it should be a fun one.