Aerial Powers finished the Minnesota Lynx’ Sunday night contest with 17 points and 4 assists.
But man, would it have been nice if she had 19.
While attempting to claw back into the game in the fourth quarter, Powers jumped a passing lane, stole the ball, and saw nothing but open court in front of her. She left the layup short, immediately putting her hands on her head after the frustrating miss. It all but put the final damper on Minnesota’s chance of walking out of Target Center with a win.
In a game which the odds were stacked against Minnesota, they played with energy and effort to make up for their limitations. After their loss to the Sun on Friday, there was incentive to bounce back Sunday night. That incentive took a hit after it was confirmed star center Slyvia Fowles wouldn’t be playing. The Lynx gave themselves a puncher’s chance to secure a win with their hustle and energy, as players like Moriah Jefferson found themselves on the floor after diving for loose balls.
“We were able to bring in the necessary energy. I think we looked a little bit different defensively today than what we looked on Friday,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “I think our defense early on was giving ourselves a chance and then we just let them get ahead of us because we stopped defending the paint, and also at halftime they were shooting 50%. We have had them down early, but you know, it’s a team that’s better, deeper. And that’s with Jonquel Jones, you know, playing minimally, she’s recovering. So, it’s a good team.”
Minnesota’s short-handed group was just that. With players likely feeling the need to step up, the game ended up being periodically sloppy, as the Lynx had to catch their breath after committing five first quarter turnovers.
Connecticut attacked the paint early and often knowing there would be instability inside without Fowles, as they scored 10 of their 19 first quarter points in the paint. Nikolina Milic played well offensively in her starting role, finishing with 14 points on 7/9 shooting. She likely would have played more than 26 minutes if she didn’t foul out.
Heck of a start for Nina Milić, who is starting in place of Sylvia Fowles tonight.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) July 24, 2022
Going right at Brionna Jones inside. A score on a back-to-the-basket move and another on the offensive glass.
She's got the first four for the Lynx, who trail 6-4 early.
Reigning MVP Jonquel Jones got back into a rhythm in the second quarter, scoring five points, after missing time due to being in the health and safety protocols. The Sun carried a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
As Reeve mentioned, the defense had its bright spots on Sunday night. Minnesota was able to hold Dewanna Bonner — Friday’s Sun/Lynx matchup MVP — to a scoreless first half. She bounced back in quarters three and four, finishing with nine points.
To cap off a back-and-forth game, the Lynx felt the game slip out of their grasp after a giving up a bucket right out of a timeout after Rachel Banham turned it over. The very next possession saw Minnesota cough the ball up once again, leading to another score. Unfortunately, third time was not the charm, as a third turnover was committed in as many tries. To cap off the sequence, Millic fouled Bonner to send her to the line.
As you can imagine, Reeve wasn’t super pumped. She pulled Milic after the play.
It epitomized a mistake-ridden evening, as in the fourth quarter the Sun scored 11 points off of turnovers. It proved a significant fourth quarter stat, as Connecticut scored in single digits off of turnovers through the first three quarters.
The Lynx’ next matchup is a battle with the Atlanta Dream in a must-win game on Thursday, a team Minnesota lost by eight points to back on June 1.