Coming off a disappointing loss to the Las Vegas Aces over the weekend, the Minnesota Lynx hoped to bounce back Wednesday afternoon in the final game of the first half of the regular season to enter the All-Star Break on a high note.
Unfortunately, what went wrong Sunday against the Aces got even worse against the Dallas Wings during Minnesota’s annual camp day game at Target Center. The Lynx got blown out for the second straight game, falling to Dallas 107-67.
From the opening tip, the Wings controlled the game and led by as much as 42 points at one point in the game. Dallas controlled the paint in the first half and shot the ball well en route to a 50-34 advantage at halftime, and the Wings only stepped on the gas in the second half en route to their largest margin of victory in franchise history.
Minnesota, led by Napheesa Collier with 11 points and four rebounds, Kayla McBride with 10 points and Diamond Miller and Emily Engstler with nine points each, couldn’t get much going offensively while shooting 40% from the field and just 26.1% from three. The Lynx also let Dallas operate with ease most of the game, much like what we saw in Sunday’s loss to the WNBA-leading Aces.
Another Blowout Loss
Wednesday’s blowout loss is the second straight at home for Minnesota, which fell to Las Vegas 113-89 on Sunday only to follow it up with a 40-point loss the next game.
That 40-point margin of defeat is the largest in franchise history, and it is the second time in team history the Lynx have given up back-to-back 100-point games to opposing teams.
A 107-67 win for the Dallas Wings!— Across the Timeline (@WBBTimeline) July 12, 2023
- Largest margin of victory in Wings franchise history (previous high was 37, set in 2000 as Detroit Shock)
- Largest margin of loss in Lynx history (previous high was 39 in 2001 vs SAC)
- 2nd win by 40+ this season (LVA over SEA on May 20)
“We’ve been a poor defensive team all season. We talked about it before the game, our defensive rating. Now we’re trending even worse than that,” Reeve said. “It’s a function of our poor defense. We just have to keep working when we get back from the All-Star break. We have to understand it has to be a focus, we have to improve defensively.”
Wings Own the Paint
The Dallas post group has led the team all season long, something that was interesting to monitor in Wednesday’s game while going up against a Minnesota unit that was thin at the position, especially without Jessica Shepard (non-COVID illness) in the lineup.
Satou Sabally and Natasha Howard are off to career years for the Wings, and that trend continued at Target Center along with Teaira McCowan to form a potential trio of players in the paint.
“Dallas played well. They are playing well and they are well-coached,” Reeve said. “Their chemistry, their willingness to their identity and willingness to share the ball. I thought we were awfully easy to play against.”
Howard led with 28 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, Sabally added 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists and McCowan tallied 19 points and six rebounds for Dallas. The Wings ended up holding a 52-26 advantage in points in the paint, one of the biggest difference makers in the win.
“Anything they wanted, they got,” Diamond Miller said. “We are better than that, we should have more pride than that. We wear Lynx on our jersey, that’s a history of greatness and we are great. We have to do better.”
Time for a Much-Needed Break
With the conclusion of the first half of the regular season, the Lynx will now get nearly a week off to regroup and reset during the All-Star break before returning to practice next week. Minnesota’s next game is on Tuesday when it hits the road to face Atlanta in the first game of the latter half of the regular season.
“The biggest thing is you have to get back to work. One, you have to have short-term memory. They all don’t feel very good to lose to that extent,” Reeve said. “I think we all know the only way to get better is we need to practice. You have to be willing to do the little things in practice, that’s where it all starts. Your attention to detail, your passion, that’s where it starts.
“I would be shocked if we didn’t return to practice on Monday after we get a few days off with a mindset that we have to be much better. That’s where it has to start.”
The break will be a much-needed one for the Lynx, who are not only coming off of two straight blowout losses but are also trying to get the likes of Shepard, Tiffany Mitchell (wrist) and Aerial Powers (ankle) back from injury or illness. Jack Borman reported on July 7 that one or two of those players could return immediately after the All-Star break.
Cheryl Reeve said it's possible that one, maybe two of Jess Shepard, Aerial Powers and Tiffany Mitchell could return immediately after the All-Star Break, but all three will not return before then.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) July 7, 2023
“Sometimes the biggest thing with this break is getting that mental break,” Rachel Banham said. “Just kind of resetting and getting our minds right. But we still have to be locked in on the goals that we have. It’s not just go on vacation and forget about basketball, but it’s a good mental break. We need it. ... Then coming back and getting ready to play, because we still have a lot of season left.
The Lynx and the rest of the WNBA will begin a near-week-long All-Star Break the rest of this week and weekend, returning to action on June 18 against the Atlanta Dream at 6 PM CT in Atlanta. That game will be aired on Bally Sports North Extra from Gateway Center Arena.
Collier and the rest of the WNBA All-Stars will take part in the 2023 All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday, with the Skills Competition and 3-Point Contest taking part Friday afternoon and the 16th annual All-Star Game between Team Wilson and Team Stewart tipping off at 7:30 PM CT on Saturday on ABC.