In a rocky season (to say the least) that’s not even two thirds complete, the Lynx have kept busy honoring the heroes of their heyday. Seimone Augustus had her jersey retirement ceremony just over a month ago at Target Center. Sylvia Fowles has been getting her rightful retirement tour this season. But tonight was all about THE ONLY WNBA player with five championship rings, Rebekkah Brunson.
“she’s Superwoman - she does it all!” pic.twitter.com/xXGbsfmYOM— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) July 4, 2022
BB, as we’ve come to known her, enjoyed a lengthy celebration with lots of familiar faces in the crowd. One of the most criminally underrated players in the league was given her flowers as #32 joined Lindsay Whalen’s #13 and Augustus’ #33 in the rafters.
Rebekah Brunson's number 32 gets retired by the Minnesota Lynx pic.twitter.com/PncaPeoRiV— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) July 4, 2022
Oh yeah, there was also a basketball game that took place before all of this.
After narrowly losing to the very same Las Vegas Aces team less than 48 hours ago, the Lynx didn’t have to wait long to get their revenge (0-3 on the season series). Though the Aces came into the game tied as the first place team in the W (They’ve spent most of the season atop the standings), the 6-15 Minnesota team had been on the upswing themselves. The Lynx had gone 3-2 in their last five games with an average point differential of +8.8. A big factor in that has been the return of frontcourt starters Fowles, Natalie Achonwa, and Damiris Dantas, in addition to Moriah Jefferson’s cool hands at the wheel (See: Triple double). Were the Lynx going to allow themselves to get swept?
After holding a lead for literally 15-seconds against the Aces on Friday, the Lynx came out guns blazing on offense while playing stifling defense on the other end. The 13-point lead was indicative of what was to come for Las Vegas, as the visitors were squeezed out of extra possessions due to Minnesota’s control of the boards. They enjoyed a 14-3 (!) rebound advantage after the first quarter. It was a fitting theme of the game, finishing with a mind-boggling 53-25 win on the glass. An homage to Brunson, if you will. That dominance, and 67% shooting from the field in the first quarter, resulted in a 33-15 lead.
Minnesota would not let go of the rope.
Aside from a few moments where the Aces would string together a couple made field goals, they never got any closer than three possessions from the Lynx. Every single player on the Minnesota roster had moments in this game - All 10 got in the scoring column thanks to unselfish ball movement all game. However, no player was more impressive that Aerial Powers. After pouring in 14 points in the first quarter alone, she upped that total to a career-high 32 by game’s end, scoring in a variety of ways. Nine free throws. Three triples. Mid-range jimmies. And-ones. You name it, she brought it. As Marney Gellner exclaimed during the broadcast, “AP is usually at a 10, but tonight it feels like she’s on a 12.” AP also chipped in six rebounds, four dimes, and a number of great defensive plays. “I feel like I let my team down (in Friday’s game), so I had to try to be more aggressive.”
The second half of the game felt like a showcase. Almost like an offering to please assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson. There were a number of sequences that blew the lid off Target Center. A pair of huge blocks on back-to-back by Fowles sent the crowd into a fervor.
A wild three offensive rebound possession that ended with a made step back jumper by Jefferson.
How To Get A Crowd On Its Feet 101 ⬇️⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ihopLRTzKs— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) July 4, 2022
A seven-point fourth quarter burst by Rachel Banham, who had just scored a season-best 24 points on Friday, sent the bench dancing on the sidelines.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the home team had notched a season-best 102 points and +31 on the scoreboard. It was a memorable night for Lynx fans both on and off the court. As they enjoyed Brunson’s celebration after the game, their impressive performance against one of the favorite’s to win the championship this season could be a sign of things to come. In the final postgame interview, AP stated, “We did it as a team, we had no quit in us.”
If Powers is accurate in this statement, then maybe it was too early for us to start praying for lottery balls.
This win knocked the Aces off the #1 seed, leaving that spot for the Chicago Sky. Speak of the devil, the Lynx get their third and final look against the defending champs on Wednesday 7/6 @ 12pm CT (!) after losing both of the previous contests by three points each time. This matinee game will also be Minnesota’s last game before the All-Star game on 7/10.