MINNEAPOLIS – Father time may be undefeated, but the impressive timeline of the Minnesota Lynx suggests age is little more than a number.
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The Lynx out-muscled the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals Wednesday night, winning the deciding game of the series 85-76 at Williams Arena. Minnesota, the oldest team in the league, proved that age doesn’t hinder motivation.
“I just can’t even impart to you how special this group is…this is incredible times in Minnesota sports
history and obviously in WNBA history,” Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve told reporters after the game.
In a clever nod to Minnesota’s odd-year supremacy and rivalry with Los Angeles, a fan brought a sign that read “Odd has never been more even.” The Lynx ensured that statement was accurate by getting the early jump, taking a 7-0 lead and never looking back. In a series where the team who surged in front first held the upper hand, it was a crucial step in Minnesota’s favor.
“We knew it was going to come down to our starters and their starters. Obviously that was how the series was defined,” Reeve said. “I thought we showed a will to win.”
Indeed, Minnesota’s grit was evident throughout the game, helping them withstand several threats from Los Angeles. Late in the second quarter, Lindsay Whalen (playing in her former college venue) won a scrum following a jump ball. She was subsequently fouled by Riquna Williams, and responded by urging her teammates and the 14,623 in attendance to keep the electric atmosphere humming. Minnesota did just that en route to a 41-35 halftime lead.
“That’s your job as a point guard is to read those things and make those calls and kind of feel the game, and when you’ve got amazing leaders and amazing players beside you, it’s easy to be able to do that, and we all just kind of gave it our all from that point on,” Whalen said.
Midway through the fourth, the Lynx clung to a 68-64 lead. On a Minnesota possession, the Sparks got a deflection that nearly caused a shot clock violation, but Whalen recovered the ball and found Sylvia Fowles, who went straight to the basket for an and-one.
“Everyone wants to talk about who scores, but it’s those plays in those moments that win a
game for you,” Reeve said.
Of course, no lead in this series was safe until the buzzer sounded. Implementing a pair of half-court traps in the closing minutes, the Sparks trimmed a 10-point deficit to three with 34.9 seconds left. The Lynx used their final timeout, and on the next possession, Maya Moore hit a 15-foot dagger that gave her team an 81-76 lead.
“You can’t wait for a team to come trap you before you respond, and eventually we said, ‘Whoever gets it, when we pass out of it, attack the basket,’ and that’s what Maya did,” Reeve said.
Picking up their fourth title in the last seven years, the Lynx are now even with the vaunted Houston Comets, winners of the first four championships in league history. With the Lynx having a knack of defying expectations based on age, more titles could be on the way. Plenette Pierson is retiring, but little else stands to interfere with Minnesota’s coveted cohesion.
“We’re in it for life, and that’s just an incredible blessing that I feel to be able to be around it every single day,” Reeve said.
Moore, who picked up 18 points and 10 rebounds, echoes those blessings.
“I don’t know if you’re going to get a more deep, committed, selfless group that we have right now,” she said.